Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has tabled a motion in Parliament calling on the government to take action to save local community pharmacies.
Backed by 13 MPs, from the Labour Party, the Scottish National Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, and the Liberal Democrats, the early day motion calls on the government to create an ‘Essential Community Pharmacy Scheme’ to “fund the purchase of prescription drugs up front, rather than leaving local pharmacies out of pocket until the end of the month”.
It also “urges the government to shield local community pharmacies from the high costs demanded by the big drug companies.”
In November 2017, Farron said that one pharmacy in his Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency received £5,000 less in NHS payments than their total drug cost for the month.
The MP said: “When we receive a prescription from the doctor, most of us would assume that between the prescription charge and what the NHS pays, pharmacies wouldn’t be out of pocket.
“However, the scandal is community pharmacies … are losing thousands of pounds every month just for providing a vital NHS service. The erosion of NHS payments means that they often don’t cover their basic drug costs, let alone the very many running costs they face.
“Large national chains can obviously subsidise their pharmacy operation with other sales in store — but that option is not open to smaller pharmacies in some of our towns and villages. Yet, in those places, pharmacies provide an even more vital service, especially for the most vulnerable in our society.
“All of this is clearly unsustainable and many of our local community pharmacies may be forced to close unless urgent action is taken by the government,” he said.
Very few early day motions are debated in Parliament.