Pharmacists will see their funding slashed by 12% for December 2016 to March 2017 as part of a two-year package confirmed by the Government today.

The announcement, made by pharmacy minister David Mowat, follows nearly a year-long consultation in which pharmacists and ministers called for the Department of Health to rethink its proposals.

PSNC said today that the cuts were “very disappointing but not surprising” and accused the Government of making “a rash decision with so little justification”.

Funding for community pharmacies will be reduced from £2.8bn a year to £2.687bn for 2016/17 and £2.592bn for 2017/18.

The new budget will mean a 4% reduction in funding for 2016/17 and a 3.4% reduction for 2017/18.

The DH also announced changes to the way it distributes funding, including a Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) where pharmacies in deprived areas receive a bigger budget and a new £75m award-based Quality Payment Scheme where pharmacies will have to demonstrate the ‘quality’ of their services.

The budget cuts and new measures will come into effect on 1 December 2016.

Health Minister, David Mowat said: "Pharmacists are a vital source of knowledge and information, as well as providing vital services such as flu jabs, health checks and, of course, dispensing vital medicines.

“Far from jeopardising services, our modernisation package will make the most of these skills and transform how pharmacists and their teams operate in the community, ensuring the public receives the very best care in the places they need it, seven days a week.”

But PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said it was a “short-sighted and ill-judged approach to take,” and claimed that there has been no evidence published to support the plan.

“It became apparent some time ago that the Government was unshaken in its determination to make a massive cut to community pharmacy funding by reducing fees and allowances,” she said.

Sharpe said that the implementation will cause pharmacies to reduced opening hours and services and that patients will be detrimentally affected.

Furthermore, the loss of pharmacy funding will put more pressure on other already stretched NHS services, she said.

Pharmacy advocates expressed their anger over the cuts on Twitter.

Health regulatory lawyer, Andrea James called the final funding package: “Terrible news for patients and community pharmacy”.

Welsh pharmacist, Richard Thomas said that the imposition is sadly no surprise as the government was “hell-bent on this course of action”. He asked if the decision might be grounds for judicial review.

Andrew Mole, a pre-registration pharmacist called the announcement “worrying news” and said “Two million signatories discarded just like that!”

Read more reaction from pharmacy leaders here

By Alice Harrold