MPs take the funding fight to Westminster
Politicians have pressured the government about the risk of job losses and pharmacy closures
MPs from across the political spectrum have questioned the pharmacy minister on the consequences of the government's planned funding cuts.
Alistair Burt faced questions from Labour MPs Stephen Pound and Sir Kevin Barron on Tuesday (February 9) in the House of Commons. Mr Pound, MP for Ealing North, asked Mr Burt to send a message to pharmacists who are "fearing for their future".
Mr Burt responded that there is a “great future” for pharmacy, but stressed the sector “would be different” after the 6% cut to the global sum in England comes into effect in October.
Sir Kevin, MP for Rother Valley and all-party pharmacy group (APPG) chair, asked the minister to clarify the extent of the cuts. "What is the full percentage cut in the full financial year?" he asked.
In response, Mr Burt said negotiations over the cuts are ongoing. "Settlements are moved on year-to-year," he said.
In a written question last week (February 4), Steve Rotheram, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, asked how many pharmacies will be forced to close because of the cuts.
Mr Burt said he could not answer the question "because we do not know the financial viability of individual businesses".
Call for a debate
David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, asked House of Commons leader Chris Grayling for a debate on the issue last week (February 4).
Mr Grayling did not say whether the government will hold a debate. Instead, he stressed that the cuts are “something we have to get right” because pharmacies play an "important role" in communities.
During a meeting with pharmacists in London last month, mayor Boris Johnson is reported to have said he will “speak to [health secretary] Jeremy Hunt” about the cuts.
At the time of publishing, three parliamentary questions from MPs on the funding cuts remain unsanswered. Read the questions below:
From Steve McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak:
"To ask the secretary of state for health, what changes his department plans for pharmacy funding; and what assessment his department has made of the effect of those changes on small independent businesses."
From Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, who asked two questions:
"To ask the secretary of state for health, what assessment he has made of the effect on patient access to medicines of planned reductions to the community pharmacy budget."
"To ask the secretary of state for health, what estimate he has made of the number of (a) pharmacy closures and (b) job losses caused by planned reductions to the community pharmacy budget."
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More news on the funding cuts from Westminster...