Community pharmacists are being urged to contact their MP to draw attention to the impact of the proposed 6% cut to the pharmacy budget before the House of Commons debates the issue in Parliament on 23 February 2016.
A template letter and briefing document has been prepared by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) for pharmacists to send to MPs by email.
At the same time, the PDAU has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the impact of the cuts, which it says should be put on hold until the outcome of the inquiry is known.
The moves by the PDAU come as it released details of its response to the government’s proposals for the community pharmacy sector, which are out for consultation.
The union suggests that front-line pharmacy services could be protected and savings found elsewhere by reforming the medicines supply chain — specifically the profits that independent wholesalers accrue and the profits made by other companies that are “vertically integrated” with multiple pharmacies.
“We believe that the government, in diminishing patient-facing services, is looking in the wrong place to secure these [savings],” says PDAU general secretary John Murphy in a letter to health minister Alistair Burt opposing the cuts.
“Cutting the number of community pharmacies using a crude method which renders them financially unviable is not the answer. Instead, savings may potentially be found in the supply chain.”
The PDAU says there is a need for “stronger government oversight and control” of wholesaler profit margins.