The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has rejected Government proposals to cut funding by 12% from December 2016 to March 2017, saying they’re founded on ‘ignorance’ of the sector’s value.

The cuts to the community pharmacy budget proposed by the Department of Health would set the funding at £2.684 billion for 2016/17.

This is only marginally more than the £2.63 billion budget proposed by the Government in its funding announcement last December.

However, the DH has also suggested funding for 2017/18 will include a 7.4% cut on current levels, setting the funding at £2.592 billion for that year.

In a letter to the DH, PSNC said the proposed package would “see patients suffer” as pharmacies would be forced to reduce staffing and cut back on services and lead to “free health services being withdrawn from community pharmacies.”

The negotiator said: “The proposals are founded on ignorance of the value of pharmacies to local communities, to the NHS, and to social care, and will do great damage to all three.”

This comes as the Department of Health announced a pilot initiative to refer patients calling NHS 111 for urgent repeat prescriptions to community pharmacies rather than out of hours GP surgeries.

The negotiator added that community pharmacy offered the department costed alternative proposals to reduce the NHS medicines bill, saving money equivalent to the cuts.

But it said: “Unlike all previous negotiations between community pharmacy and the Department of Health, this year’s negotiations were not characterised by collaborative working. From the start, the proposals were presented by the Department as a fait accompli.”

The Government will now need to propose a revised package, or impose their proposed funding changes on England’s community pharmacies.