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Burt dodges question on rural-urban pharmacy debate

The pharmacy minister did not clarify how urban pharmacies in deprived areas would be protected in the face of funding cuts

The pharmacy minister has failed to address whether the Department of Health (DH) has considered the impact funding cuts could have on rural and urban pharmacies.

Conservative MP for Lincoln Karl McCartney used a written question to ask Alistair Burt whether the DH took rural and urban deprivation into account when devising the new model of community pharmacy funding.  

In his response on Wednesday (May 4), Mr Burt said the government’s aim is to ensure that the introduction of a Pharmacy Access Scheme allows the community pharmacies that people rely upon to “continue to thrive”. The fund will “provide more NHS funds to certain pharmacies”, considering factors such as location and local health needs, he added.

Mr Burt did not give any new information about how the DH will decide which pharmacies receive more funding. Instead, he stressed that all the government's proposals for pharmacy are being considered against the public sector equality duty (meaning public bodies have to consider all individuals when carrying out their work), with an impact assessment to be "published in due course".

London pharmacies at risk

Pharmacy London warned earlier this week that the Pharmacy Access Scheme may not address the health inequalities and multiculturalism in London.

The organisation's chief executive Rekha Shah said the government’s aim to remove funding for "clusters" of pharmacies would not work in London, where groupings of pharmacies are needed “because of what they offer” in terms of services and different languages. 

In negotiation papers published by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) last month (April 28), the DH said it could not predict which pharmacies would qualify for the access scheme, but said it would develop a national formula to help them choose. 


Do you think urban or rural pharmacies will be more at risk of funding cuts? 

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