At the start of September, Pharmacy Minister David Mowat said he was putting on hold cuts to pharmacies in England and related efficiency measures, and yet two weeks later the Department of Health stated that, after a brief spell of negotiations, a package would be announced in mid-October, with implementation from December.
In what sense is this short stay of execution ‘taking the time to make the right decision’ (in the Minister’s own words)? How is a few weeks’ notice adequate time for the pharmacy sector to prepare for the changes? And in what sense is a brief negotiation behind closed doors the ongoing dialogue we were promised?
We have urged the Minister to be true to his word. He should take the time to get things right for the sector, right for the NHS and right for patients and communities. He should open a genuine dialogue with the sector about the way forward. To be meaningful, such dialogue must be based on genuinely fresh thinking – it would make no sense to take as a starting point for the universally unpopular proposals of December 2015.
It will do the Minister great credit to pause and reflect, and not simply wave through the discredited policy proposals he inherited. A genuine and informed review is required.
To proceed in the hurried manner now suggested would be intolerable to the millions of patients who oppose the cuts, and disrespectful to our profession because of the lack of time to prepare.
What’s more it would be illogical, at a time when GPs and hospitals are so under pressure, to diminish this vital front line service.
Stay active with us in our campaign. Use the NPA’s simple-to- use ‘Email Your MP’ tool to ask your MP to urge Ministers to strike the original Department of Health proposals off the agenda, and engage in a positive programme for service improvement.
As a reminder that we have come a long way together, have a look at the timeline of the campaign so far, from the NPA’s perspective, at npa.co.uk/step-forward