A ‘prescription to save our pharmacies’ has been handed to No 10 Downing Street as part of a new campaign called #Fight4Pharmacies, launched by the Independent Pharmacies Association (IPA) this week.

The so-called prescription – signed by approximately 30 parliamentarians – urges the government to take action to save local pharmacies and address an estimated £1.2bn funding shortfall within the sector.

The campaign is calling on the government to:

  • tackle the funding shortfall to save independent pharmacies that rely on the NHS for 95% of their funding
  • address problems with the reimbursement mechanism so independent pharmacists are not left out of pocket
  • tackle medicine supply shortages to ensure pharmacy teams can fulfil prescriptions for patients
  • make Pharmacy First work for independent community pharmacies so they can deliver for patients
  • acknowledge the difference between patient-focused independent pharmacies and supermarket-style pharmacies that offer large retail services with healthcare.

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief of the IPA (formerly AIMp), said: ‘Our pharmacists get the majority of their income from the NHS and, unlike the supermarket-style pharmacies, they are unable to plug the funding gap by increasing sales from cosmetics and other consumer goods.

‘By painting the sector in one broad brushstroke, the government is risking the loss of independently owned local community pharmacies which we see on our high streets and in our town centres.’

Dr Hannbeck added: ‘It is time for a fairer deal for our independent community pharmacies, who are working hard to provide accessible primary healthcare and take pressure off other areas of the NHS through schemes such as Pharmacy First.’

The campaign declaration has received cross-party support, with signatories including Labour’s Grahame Morris and the Lib Dems’ Daisy Cooper, as well as former cabinet ministers Priti Patel and Gavin Williamson.

Dr Hannbeck used X, formerly Twitter, to thank the campaign’s ‘pharmacy champions’ who attended its launch on Tuesday, and wrote: ‘Every £1 invested in pharmacies saves £2 in secondary care.’

Bambos Charalambous, Labour MP for Enfield Southgate, posted in support of the campaign, writing: ‘More must be done to protect our local pharmacies and health!’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘More than four in five people live within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy, and there are twice as many pharmacies in deprived areas, making access to care quicker and more convenient.

‘We have made significant new funding available over two years to support the expansion of community pharmacy services, including Pharmacy First, which comes on top of the £2.6 billion year pharmacies already receive.’

They added the department was also currently ‘consulting with Community Pharmacy England on the funding and contract arrangements for 2024/25’.