MPs question Burt on cuts
Politicians from across the spectrum quizzed the pharmacy minister in the House of Commons on the impact of plans to slash England's pharmacy funding
Pharmacy minister Alistair Burt has revealed more details about the government's plans to slash pharmacy funding by 6%.
The Minister faced heavy questioning from MPs on Tuesday(February 23) during a parliamentary debate on the funding cuts organised by Derek Thomas, Conservative MP for St Ives. During the debate, MPs questioned whether the government had given enough thought to the impact of the cuts.
Here's the pick of Mr Burt's answers to MPs' questions.
1. Why hasn't the government worked more closely with the sector?
Mr Burt said the government’s open letter announcing the 6% funding cut was the starting point for a debate on the plans. The government will listen to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and a “wide range” of pharmacy representatives before making a decision, he said.
2. Could the cuts force vital pharmacies in rural areas to close?
The government recognises concerns over the impact on pharmacy access, Mr Burt said. The Pharmacy Access Scheme, which will vary the amount of funding individual pharmacies receive based on their location and the health needs of the local population, would seek to ensure that essential pharmacies remained open, he said.
3. Shouldn’t the government be shifting money away from secondary care into primary care, rather than vice-versa?
Mr Burt acknowledged that patients need to be treated in primary care rather than secondary care where possible. But he stressed that savings need to be made “across the board” and maintained that the pharmacy network could be leaner. Mr Burt pointed out that the number of pharmacies in England had risen rapidly over the past few years.
Read C+D deputy and features editor Emma Weinbren's view on the debate here.