A petition in favour of saving local pharmacies at risk of closure is inching closer to a target of 100,000 signatures from members of the public.
The petition — which was launched by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) in December — is calling on the Government to recompense pharmacies for the extra costs that pharmacies have incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As it stands, 91,001 members of the public have signed the ongoing petition.
‘Many more family-owned pharmacies in England could soon be forced to shut their doors unless the government acts,’ the petition reads.
‘The first step is to let pharmacies keep the money they were given for the crippling extra costs of staying open during the pandemic. This money was spent by pharmacies to provide vital healthcare and the government must keep its promise to cover these extra costs.
‘Community pharmacies are a local lifeline. They provide vital health and social care in communities across the country, including the most deprived neighbourhoods. Please support our local pharmacies – so they can continue to keep people well and save lives’.
This comes just one month after pharmacists in England began to protest in response to the Government’s so far refusing to write off the £370m debt the sector was given as a support loan during the pandemic.
The protests took place in the constituencies of several Government ministers, including the health secretary, the Prime Minister and the chancellor.
The NPA had previously highlighted to the Guardian newspaper that some pharmacists were considering protest action unless the Treasury wrote off the debt.
Commenting on the number of signatures, a spokesperson from the NPA said: ‘The high level of public support for this petition reflects opinion polls which consistently show that people trust and value their local pharmacies.
‘People want more investment in care close to home and a fair deal for NHS providers, especially in light of their wholehearted commitment during the pandemic.’
They added: ‘A petition is a simple way for people to express their views, but it is just one part of our ongoing efforts to make the case for fair pharmacy funding.
‘We continue to present evidence, mobilise political support and raise public awareness of the issue while maintaining a dialogue with Ministers and NHS officials.’
This comes after PSNC announced it rejected an initial funding offer made by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in November to deal with the financial impact of Covid-19 on community pharmacy contractors.
Instead, the negotiating body has suggested that the Government write off the £370m in advance payments made to the sector earlier this year to help with Covid-related costs.
In September, an analysis conducted by Ernst and Young (EY) revealed that almost three-quarters of independent pharmacies in England could be forced to close by 2024 if current contractual arrangements remain unchanged.