A further 200,000 Support Your Local Pharmacy petition signatures were sent to the government on 30 June 2016, bringing the total to more than 2 million.
In a covering letter to prime minister David Cameron, Ian Strachan, chair of the National Pharmacy Association, which is leading the campaign, urges the government to reconsider the Department of Health’s proposals to cut funding to the pharmacy contract, which could lead to the closure of 3,000 pharmacies.
The government is due to report back to parliament in July 2016 following a consultation on the proposals.
The letter, also signed by Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, and Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, says: “Decisions taken in the next few weeks could have irreversible consequences for patients and communities up and down the country.
“The current circumstances within government provide an opportunity to reconsider these proposals to ensure that your ministers do not set in motion a chain of events leading to the closure of community pharmacies up and down the country,” it adds.
The pharmacy leaders also say that the proposals, which include an increased use of technology for remote medicines supply, would mean growing numbers of people obtaining medicines without seeing a pharmacist face to face. They say this would undermine the role pharmacists play in ensuring patients get the best from their medicines and ensuring the value of the NHS’ investment in those medicines.
The trio previously wrote to David Cameron on 24 May 2016 when the Department of Health consultation closed, at which time the petition – which calls on the government to “abandon plans that put pharmacy services at risk” – had around 1.8 million signatures. They say it is the largest healthcare petition in UK history.