A petition against government plans to slash £170m from the community pharmacy budget in England has attracted 1 million signatures.
Campaigners say the petition is the largest ever health-related petition of its kind in the UK, with an estimated 30,000 patients or customers signing the Support Your Local Pharmacy petition every day. The petition is due to be presented to Downing Street in May 2016.
Ian Strachan, chair of the National Pharmacy Association, which launched the petition in February 2016, says: “The government seems to think that putting a few hundred pharmacists into GP practices is a good swap for the loss of potentially 3,000 community pharmacies. I disagree. And so do at least a million patients and concerned citizens.”
Rob Darracott, chief executive of the community pharmacy organisation Pharmacy Voice, says the support reflects the value that the public has for community pharmacy.
Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, adds: “The public seems to recognise what the government so far has not: that community pharmacy teams are vital front-line NHS providers who can give face-to-face healthcare advice and support at a time and place that is convenient for patients.”
The petition calls on the prime minister and health secretary to abandon proposed cuts to community pharmacy funding because of fears that they will threaten pharmacy services and force many pharmacies to close, putting pressure on GPs and hospital services.