A cross-sector petition to ‘save’ community pharmacies reached over 100,000 signatures even before yesterday’s ‘day of action’, during which even more members of the public were invited to sign.

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) reported ‘hundreds of signatures being collected at pharmacies across the four nations each day’, which, when combined with signatures collected online, totalled over 100,000 even before the concerted day of action.

The cross-sector petition calls on the government to deliver ‘immediate, fair and sustained funding to safeguard NHS pharmacy services and ensure local pharmacies have a future’.

It was established more than a year ago, gathering impetus as the NPA distributed copies of the petition to independent pharmacies two weeks ago in the lead up to their UK-wide ‘day of action’ that saw pharmacies dimming their lights, displaying posters and wearing black.

Jonathan Cooper, owner of Cooper's Chemist in Richmond, Yorkshire, told The Pharmacist that his local community had signed 'literally thousands' of protest sheets in the lead up to the day.

'Everyone that we talked to is more than willing to sign and said "Oh no, we can't possibly risk losing the pharmacy, this business is vital to us".'

Paul Rees, NPA chief executive, said the number of signatures was ‘heartening’, and highlighted ‘how concerned people are about possibly losing their local pharmacy’.

‘The petition is still open and we are receiving hundreds of signatures every day, as pharmacy teams scan their petition sheets and send them into the NPA. So, the number of signatures will continue to climb,’ he added.

Pharmacist Sarah Al-Saad at Green Light Pharmacy, in Euston, London

Pharmacist Sarah Al-Saad at Green Light Pharmacy, in Euston, London

During yesterday’s day of action, pharmacist Sarah Al-Saad at Green Light Pharmacy, in Euston, London, told The Pharmacist how she hoped the day would invigorate patient support and awareness about the challenges pharmacies face.

‘The more stuff we're getting put on our plate, it's taking away from the stuff that we would be doing on a day to day basis,’ she said.

‘And it does have an impact on patient safety,’ she said.

‘We worry that we won't be able to maintain the level of service that we have been providing for this many years. It's just not sustainable if we don't get some more help.’

During the day of action, the pharmacy had seen members of the public people signing the Save Our Pharmacies petition, inquiring about the poster outside the premises, or asking about the stickers the team were wearing.

‘They don't know what's going on,’ Ms Al-Saad told The Pharmacist.

‘That's why I think this is so important to raise awareness because they need to know why services are slacking. They need to know why things are taking longer. They need to know why we look stressed or why we're running around doing 50 different things at once. … they need to realise that it's because we have a lot of other stuff going on that we're trying to balance.

‘It's not because we're slacking or because we're lazy, or because we don't care, because we do care. We care a lot. And that's why we're just so desperate for people to know about it.’