A quarter of Sheffield’s pharmacies could be closed due to Government cuts, a city MP has warned.
Heeley MP Louise Haigh warned elderly and vulnerable people would put the health service under even more strain by visiting their GP instead if their local pharmacy closed.
More details have been revealed after Ministers announced a £170 million cut to the NHS community pharmacy budget in December.
Nationally, it has been suggested by the Health Minister that as many as 3,000 pharmacies – one in four – could be forced to close.
This means up to 32 out of the 128 pharmacies across Sheffield could face the axe.
It is unknown which city sites would be earmarked for closure, but an NHS England boss said 40 percent of pharmacies are in ‘clusters of three or more within ten minutes’ walk of each other’.
Ms Haigh spoke out during a debate on pharmacies in Parliament on Tuesday.
She said research from YouGov demonstrates that in deprived areas, four in five people who would usually go to pharmacies would instead access their local GP services.
She added: “Almost everyone uses their local pharmacy and having one close-by is vital. That’s why Government cuts, which may lead to 32 closures across Sheffield, are so damaging.
“As it stands, in areas like ours most people live within a 20 minute walk of a pharmacy – cuts on this scale would leave the elderly and those with health conditions completely isolated and potentially with no choice but to use their GP.
“Community pharmacies are a vital resource and take some of the strain from GP services which are under unprecedented pressure due to increasing demand. They must think again.”
Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, said:“Community pharmacy is a vital part of the health and care system, and that’s why we are consulting on changes that will better integrate pharmacy into the NHS. We have a responsibility to make sure we get the best use from our resources, and currently 40 per cent of pharmacies are in clusters of three or more within ten minutes of each other – each supported by NHS funds.
“These proposals will ensure we have a modern, efficient pharmacy sector which gives patients the support of pharmacy services when and where they need it.”