"Treasury bean counters are quibbling over an increase in pharmacy funding"

More than 1,500 pharmacists have written to the chancellor of the exchequer to save their pharmacies from closing down.

The Mirror reported on Sunday (September 14) that 1,300 pharmacists pleaded with Rishi Sunak to “urgently look again at pharmacy funding,” ostensibly terrified by a recent review by accountancy firm EY which revealed that three-quarters of independent pharmacists would close over the next four years due to years of chronic underfunding in the sector.

The EY review was commissioned by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).

Following the newspaper report, Mark Lyonette, the chief executive of the NPA, later tweeted to confirm that the number of pharmacists seeking the chancellor’s intervention had risen to over 1,500.

In the letter to Sunak, the pharmacists wrote: “As the son of a pharmacist, we are quite sure that you won’t wish to preside over the irreversible decline of community pharmacy, which has done so much over the last year to prove its worth and save lives.”

The letter warned that unless changes were made to how pharmacies were funded, many would be “unable to survive – limiting access to health services in villages, towns, urban areas and in rural communities such as those in your own constituency.”

“The inevitable result will be unemployment and more pressure on the NHS as people turn to GPs and A&E departments for the help that they can currently get conveniently in pharmacies.”

Time to avert national tragedy: Jackie Doyle-Price

The report also quoted former health minister and chair of the All Party Pharmacy Group Jackie Doyle-Price criticising the Treasury for “quibbling” over a tiny increase in funding.

Writing exclusively for The Mirror, she said: “Our local chemists, some of the quiet heroes of the NHS, are being abandoned to financial ruin through consistent underfunding and the costs of staying open during coronavirus.

“Out of touch NHS England executives and Treasury bean counters are quibbling over an increase in pharmacy funding that represents a minuscule proportion of the NHS budget, but would keep thousands of pharmacies from going to the wall.”

“It’s time to get behind our local chemists and avert a national tragedy.”

The Mirror report also noted that Sunak has spoken of how growing up in his mother’s “tiny chemist shop” in Southampton taught him that politicians “should support free enterprise and innovation to ensure our future prosperity”.

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