The Department of Health (DH) has insisted it "welcomes" counter proposals to plug the £170m cuts after it was accused of taking "little interest" in the measures by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

The committee blasted the government for its “unshaken determination” to axe 6% off the budget and for failing to consider alternative plans that would see millions saved through efficiencies rather than cuts.

The Pharmacist contacted DH for a direct response to PSNC’s public comments and requested to speak with pharmacy minister Alistair Burt.

DH responded with a quote from a spokesperson: “We want to reform community pharmacy to make sure we have a modern, efficient service that makes better use of pharmacists' skills.

“By helping pharmacists to work more closely with GPs, hospitals, care homes and other public health settings, we hope to offer patients more choice, easier access and a service that is fit for the future as well as today.

“We are consulting on a range of proposals about how this will be delivered.

“We welcome the publication of the PSNC's counter proposal, which will allow these ideas to be discussed.”

Last week Peter Cattee, chair of PSNC’s funding and contract subcommittee and CEO of PCT Healthcare, said: “The government appears unshaken in their determination to remove a sum of £170m from community pharmacy funding this year, and do so via reductions in fees and allowances.”

He added PSNC is “extremely concerned” and is continuing to work with other pharmacy organisations to persuade the government of the value of community pharmacy.

PSNC has advised pharmacists contractors to make “whatever provisions they can” to prepare for the budget reduction, scheduled to start in October.

The consultation into community pharmacy cuts concludes tomorrow (24 May 2016).