The Labour Party has confirmed that it will reverse the government’s controversial pharmacy funding cuts if elected.
Julie Cooper, shadow health minister, has confirmed that Labour would halt the financial cuts and reinstate funding to community pharmacy. The government reduced community pharmacy funding by 4% from December 2016 to March 2017 and will cut another 3.4% from the budget in 2017–2018.
And Cooper told The Pharmaceutical Journal that if it formed a government the party would “collaborate closely with the sector to agree potential extended roles to fully utilise the expertise of community pharmacists”.
“We are very worried about the effects of the funding cuts to community pharmacy. I am in constant contact with the PSNC [Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee] and the NPA [National Pharmacy Association],” she said.
“As the former owner of a community pharmacy, I have retained many close connections with community pharmacists and hear first-hand of the impact of the cuts.
“I believe that community pharmacy has a central role to play supporting the wider primary care team.
”It is a fact… that no health professional is better qualified than the community pharmacist to lead on the most cost-effective use of medicines.”
Cooper said that the cutbacks were short-sighted and warned that they would lead to a reduction of services and the closure of many pharmacies.
“This will inevitably increase the pressure on GP surgeries and A&E departments, worsen patient outcomes and lead to additional demand on NHS resources,” she added.
Earlier this month shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth was reported as saying that Labour was “absolutely committed” to stopping the £320m reduction in government funding to community pharmacy.