“Poorly-briefed” David Cameron dismissed a plea to protect independent pharmacies against cuts and insisted the sector needs to provide “value for money”.
His comments followed a question during Prime Minister’s Questions from Sue Hayman, Labour MP for Workington, who called on the government to halt the proposed 6% cuts to community pharmacy.
Hayman noted more than 2,000 people had signed a petition against the reduction to community pharmacy funding at Allisons’ Chemists in Cockermouth and added independent pharmacies are a “vital lifeline” for communities.
Hayman asked: “Given the media reports last week regarding the actions of Boots, who now face investigation by the regulator, isn’t it time the Prime Minister and his government supported independent pharmacies like Allisons which are a vital lifeline for our communities and help to keep our high streets alive?”
Cameron replied that the government needed to make sure they were getting “value for money in pharmacy” following “massive increases” in spending on the sector while protecting rural pharmacies.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is now urging Cameron to reconsider his plans for community pharmacy.
Responding to the comments PSNC chief executive, Sue Sharpe, said: “The Prime Minister could have taken the opportunity to recognise the excellent, front-line work carried out every day in community pharmacies all over the country and to welcome PSNC’s recent counter-proposals for the pharmacy contract.
“It seems, however, that Mr Cameron was poorly briefed by his officials.
“Community pharmacies are at the front-line of healthcare. Community pharmacies are the front line that keep people out of A&E and GP surgeries.”
She added it is “not accurate” to say there has been a massive increase in pharmacy spending as the global sum distributed to pharmacists has grown at a “significantly slower” rate than inflation and prescription volumes have grown.
She added: “It has also grown slower than overall funding for the NHS. Community pharmacies provide excellent value for money to the NHS.
PSNC continues to discuss its counter-proposals with the Department of Health and NHS England.”
[box type="shadow" ]QUESTION IN FULL
Sue Hayman, Labour MP for Workington, said: “More than 2000 people have signed a petition started by Allisons’ Chemists in Cockermouth, in my constituency, calling on the government not to cut the funding of community pharmacies. “Given the media reports last week regarding the actions of Boots, who now face investigation by the regulator, isn’t it time the Prime Minister and his government supported independent pharmacies like Allisons which are a vital lifeline for our communities and help to keep our high streets alive?”
David Cameron replied: “We are supporting rural pharmacies, there is a specific scheme to help there but if we look at the last five years there was massive increases in pharmacy spending and as we make sure as much of the NHS resources go to the front line – the doctors and the nurses and the operations and the A&E that we want to see carried out - we have got to make sure we are getting value for money in pharmacy, while at the same time protecting the rural pharmacies she speaks about.” [/box]