Government cuts to community pharmacy have been slammed as “arbitrary” and “ill-conceived” by Pharmacy Voice.

In a response to the £170m budget reduction, the association has called on the Department of Health (DH) to “stop the planned disinvestment in community pharmacy” in 2016/17 and invest in long-term transformation.

It points out community pharmacy has delivered more than 4% savings for the NHS through both cost reduction and quality improvement year on year.

Damage from rushed, unplanned cuts will destroy the long-term potential of community pharmacy and initiatives to integrate pharmacy into the wider healthcare system, Pharmacy Voice states.

The response, which explores the consequences of the proposed cuts, also represents the combined views of the National Pharmacy Association, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies and Company Chemists’ Association.

Claire Ward, chair of Pharmacy Voice, said: “We are eager to work with the Government in a constructive way, and recognise this opportunity to change the sector for the better.

“However, it seems clear that the cuts being proposed are based not on what the DH deems efficient or safe, but rather on what HM Treasury wishes to save.”

Pharmacy Voice has called for five commitments from the DH in return for the investment of resources, effort, expertise and time from the sector.

As well as stopping the disinvestment, it wants to agree a long-term settlement, see investment in service transformation, put in place a joint, co-ordinated approach to planning investment and change and for the government to deliver reform required to enable community pharmacy to play its “full role”.

Ward said: “The proposals for delivering efficiencies we’ve seen are at a very early stage of development and will not provide any meaningful savings prior to the imposition of the cuts.

“So it is hardly surprising that pharmacies across the country are speaking out against these rash cuts, being imposed with little notice and with scant regard for the consequences.”

Commenting on the next steps for the negotiations, she said: “Pharmacy Voice, alongside its members, will continue to keep the dialogue going and will make the damaging consequences of these proposals on public health absolutely clear to the government.”

For the full Pharmacy Voice response click here