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What now?

These are dark days for community pharmacy. Despite over 200 MPs voting against funding cuts, more than two million people signing a petition against the proposals, and countless commonsense arguments made against them, community pharmacy funding in England will suffer draconian cuts and pharmacies will probably close.

This is pure political dogma at its most asinine and has echoes of a former prime minister’s determination to go to war in Iraq in the face of protests from the public, MPs, and against the best of advice of international organisations. He was proven wrong, as this government’s decision will be. Again, innocent people will suffer, particularly those already beaten down by chronic illness and poverty.

At the LPC Conference on November 2, PSNC chief executive spoke for the whole profession when she said that pharmacists felt “bruised and betrayed”. Pharmacy minister David Mowat, making a rare appearance in front of a pharmacy audience, seemed to be little more than the messenger hoping to avoid getting shot. But it was obvious from LPC representative’s reaction when he mentioned England’s chief pharmacist, that they hold Keith Ridge at least partly responsible for this disaster.

Mrs Sharpe’s advice to contractors was to do whatever is necessary to survive, but to try to avoid penalising local communities, because they are the profession’s greatest advocate. NPA members considering cutting their ‘free’
services should perhaps bear this in mind.

Despite these awful circumstances, or perhaps because of them, I hope you will be cheered by and inspired by our coverage of this year’s Independent Pharmacy Awards. Colleagues around the country are continuing to deliver superb patient care, come what may.

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