Pharmacy cuts have been 'an absolute folly'

Sid Dajani, contractor for Wainwrights Chemist in Eastleigh, said that the manifesto draft’s plan to reverse the pharmacy cuts is a positive move which should be supported.

Dajani, who is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board and Assembly, said, ‘the problem is that savings are needed but the cuts were not the right way to do it.

‘It has been an absolute folly. If you take enough bricks out of the wall, it will soon fall over. It was implemented too fast to work, with no time to adjust services.

‘Pharmacy is right to the bone now and it can’t take any more beatings. There is no amount of voodoo mathematics that can make the numbers add up. We’ve come to the point where services are going to be cut and efficiency is going to be reduced,’ he said.

The Labour manifesto draft is promising, Dajani said, as it could mean more money to meet expectations for treating the ageing population, and reducing the social inequality. However, ‘they would be putting out the fires set by the Tories,’ he said.

‘The Tories are focusing on Brexit, Europe and Immigrants to hide their failings in the NHS.

‘They are trying to say that the NHS will be secured after Brexit but the NHS was a mess before Brexit. With EU workers leaving, we will be left with workforce shortages and the return of agencies charging double.

Dajani said that he has never voted Labour but that Labour’s stance on health services might change that.

‘Nothing can be worse than the Tories right now, not even UKIP. The Tories have faltered at every possible move to put patients first and judging by this announcement, Labour has to be better for patients.

‘You’d be mad to vote Tory. They have failed the NHS and are robbing Peter to pay Paul. We need to vote for a party with the NHS at the heart of its policies.’

However, Labour would need to follow through on their promises for any real change to patient care to occur and ‘they need to deal in truth,’ he said.

'Naturally delighted'

Chair of the National Pharmacy Association, Ian Strachan, said: 'We are naturally delighted that the Labour Party is committed to halting the programme of pharmacy closures. There is a better way to achieve efficiencies than by applying funding cuts  – one which builds on the strengths of the community pharmacy network rather than dismantles it.

'With consistent support from policy makers, pharmacies can do much more to take pressure off GPs and hospitals, make access to NHS care more convenient and help people with long term conditions.

'Importantly, the Labour Party is also calling for a review of access to pharmacy services in deprived areas.  The community pharmacy network is a part of the health service that can truly be said to serve all communities, including the most vulnerable neighbourhoods.  It is vital to preserve access to pharmaceutical care for those in most need.  Cuts to local pharmacies will have a disproportionate effect on people who live in the most deprived areas of England, where there is already a lack of NHS healthcare provision.

'The NPA has been in dialogue with the Labour front bench team for many months and they have been vocal in parliament on this issue.

'Politicians from all political parties have expressed their support for local pharmacies, so we look forward to similar commitments in other manifestos.

'The General Election gives us another platform to get the message across to politicians that pharmacy is a vital part of the NHS frontline and requires their active and consistent support.  NPA members will shortly be sent leaflets and a poster to display in pharmacies – they encourage patients to raise pharmacy issues with election candidates when the candidates knock on their doors to canvass support.'

'We continue to make the case for development'

Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board said: 'Community pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professional close to where people live or work and we have previously expressed our concerns over the impact on patients of a reduction in services. At the same time, we continue to make the case for the development of pharmacists in all care settings to deliver a greater range of clinical services, putting pharmacists at the heart of the NHS.'