DH doesn't want to close pharmacies, says Burt

In the face of a pharmacy backlash over proposed funding cuts, the government has reiterated its claimed support for the sector.

Pharmacy minister Alistair Burt told a conference on February 24 that the government did not intend to close pharmacies, contrary to earlier suggestions that up to 3,000 may be forced to shut. “I want to emphasise that our aim is to secure efficiencies and make savings. It is not our aim to close pharmacies.”

The government aimed to make sure that those pharmacies that people depended upon would continue to thrive. The Pharmacy Access Scheme would take into account factors such as location and local health needs.

"I want community pharmacy to be considered part of the NHS’s frontline. There is a real potential for far greater use of community pharmacy, pharmacists and their teams. It’s a win-win. This will help relieve the pressure on GPs and A&Es, ensure better use of medicines and better patient outcomes and will contribute to delivering seven-day health and care services.”

The conference was the launch event for the RPS care homes report, which Mr Burt backed, “not just because of the savings that could be made, or the fact that it’s a smarter way of working, but because it emphasises the integral role of pharmacists”.

On the subject of hub-and-spoke dispensing, Mr Burt said: “I know there are some that say that this signals the end of community pharmacy as we know it. I utterly reject this. What it is about is ensuring that we move towards a sustainable long-term future for pharmacy in all its guises.”

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