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Burt: Impact assessment on cuts coming ‘in due course'

Alistair Burt: Pharmacy has a good future

The pharmacy minister said the assessment of the planned funding cuts will take into account the views of pharmacy bodies

EXCLUSIVE

The government will conduct an impact assessment before slashing pharmacy funding in England, pharmacy minister Alistair Burt has promised.

The assessment will take into account the views of pharmacy bodies on the cuts, and will be published in “due course”, Mr Burt told C+D in an exclusive interview yesterday (February 23).

His comments followed 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.

Mr Burt acknowledged the MPs had made “fair points”. But he maintained that pharmacy has a “good future” and told C+D there would be “new opportunities” for the sector.

The minister would also not commit to any national commissioning of services. “Whether it’s national or local [commissioning], I’m very clear from everything that I know that pharmacy could play a greater part in what’s commissioned,” he told C+D.

Mr Burt added that he understood fears over the patchiness of local commissioning, and this issue would be considered during the consultation period.

Proposals will cause concern

C+D reporter Annabelle Collins tweeted live during the debate.

 

 

Read C+D deputy editor Emma Weinbren's view of the debate here.


What do you think of Mr Burt's comments?

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19 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of Mr Burt's comments?

Tariq Iqbal, Accuracy checking technician

Has he well 500 pharmacy closure 1 million patients affected. Burt wake up and come to earth not planet mars

Ebers Papyrus, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The lively and informed questioning during the parliamentary debate at Westminster was met with complete contempt by the minister. He failed to answer one question and simply regurgitated the empty rhetoric and vague points from the 17/12 letter. This letter is now over 2 months old and he's still avoiding any meaningful discussion.  It was clear he was conscious of not digging an even deeper hole for the government on this. This policy is lazy and half baked and its only objective is to save George Osborne's blushes if he doesn't meet his treasury pledge. The cuts impact will force pharmacies to reduce staff and withdraw vital free services. This clearly has a direct negative impact on patients diminishing service and increasing risk.  A judicial review will take into account the fact government has offered no plan, no assessment, and no evidence of an immediate or future solution. Furthermore the government has failed to consult and provide further information. 

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

This man is here to do a hatchet job on community pharmacy, nothing else. He cares not one jot for pharmacy. We should not bother engaging with him in any way.

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Engage with 3 groups: 1) the public 2) the media 3) the lawyers willing to take up a judicial review.

Yuna Mason, Sales

100% of the population would like to be able to get to a pharmacy by car.

G K, Superintendent Pharmacist

99%?? More poor evidence gathering 

Susan M Shepherd, Community pharmacist

Uk population just under 65 million. Active driving licence records @14/1/2015 according to the DVLA FOI data was 45.5 million. (This from the GOV UK website)

Assuming everyone with a driving licence has a car, that means 70% can get themselves to a pharmacy by car. Everyone else is reliant on somebody taking them, or taxis, or public transport.

A little short of the 99% mark.

Mike Hewitson, Superintendent Pharmacist

The Office for National Statistics states 6m households with no car. How many of those are elderly or vulnerable? Patients with serious health problems?! 

Free pharmacy delivery services paper over the cracks, and give politicians a false sense of security. 

The numbers don't add up. Can't wait to see the impact assessment, if it's up to the standards of the other documentation which supports the process thusfar. 

M Yang, Community pharmacist

If we get our judicial review, we should be sure to question Mr Burt what he meant when he said the 99% figure. Everyone take screenshots of the Twitter feed, a reminder of the talent we have in charge of "impact assessment."

M Yang, Community pharmacist

The government proven wrong in 10 seconds by it's very own information website!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

And the pharmacy bodies take in the thoughts/ views of who again ? This whole saga gets more amusing by the day.

A Hussain, Senior Management

He's a Patsy.  Put up there to serve platitudes and empty statements, whilst his bosses march on regardless.  I know it seems like childish petulance, but I wouldn't bother engaging this man as it does not seem like he has the ear of his higher ups.

M Yang, Community pharmacist

"99% of population can get to a pharmacy by car." Where did Mr Burt get this figure from? There are 30 million people who drive a car in the UK. Even factoring in spouses and dependents who are passengers for day to day activities, this is not 99% of the population. The people living in housing estates and old people who rely on the bus would disagree with this 99% figure. Maybe 99% of Westminster, but certainly not 99% of the general population.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

An impact assessment does not need to take into account "views" as they will be nobbled.

An impact assessment has to be carried out BEFORE a policy decision is made.

All points to a Judicial Review.

Yuna Mason, Sales

A legal challenge would run up astronomical bills, take a long time to carry out (years possibly for something this complex?) and carry no guarantee of success. It was kind of the lawyers to suggest it, I'm sure they're really hopeful it goes that way. If 'pharmacy' did actually win it, it could be several ?years? down the line after the cuts had been implemented, and the pharmacies might already have closed. Look at the numbered points in the article here: http://www.chemistanddruggist.co.uk/news/lawyers-sector-should-legally-challenge-government-cuts. 1, 3 and 4 are about the consultation process and whether financial starvation is an "appropriate tool" - they're not about actually stopping the government cutting the number of pharmacies.
 

Number 2 would involve a very complex legal argument I'd imagine, plus statisticians and all sorts of other experts, which is what would take up the most time and waste taxpayers money on the government's defence. And in the end, pharmacy could lose on legal grounds. Even if it won, the government could still find a way to cut the number of pharmacies and/or funding by stealth means and patients would be no better off. It wouldn't be fought on access to healthcare, it would be fought on legislation and the interpretation thereof. Personally I don't think it's a great choice - a last resort perhaps.

 

 

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Pragmatic points raised, Yuna. Could we wager that as we approach election time, the fallout from a judicial review being launched may make the government put a hold on their plans? Or, maybe that's wishful thinking and the Conservative government will use every second in power right up to the last vote being counted to implement every cut it can conceive of. The optimist in me likes to think that a successful judicial review sets a precedence on which future cuts to phamacy will be judged against. The profession has never done anything like this before.

Yuna Mason, Sales

They are difficult times for sure and we need to consider all options. However, the government experiences bad headlines about the NHS every day in the press. It's facing doctors protesting in the streets but actively vilified the BMA. It's facing a storm about the leak of the NICE safe staffing guidelines which were withheld, and since the leak has distanced itself from NICE, calling the guidelines unofficial. The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership could mean privatization of the NHS to American companies. It hid news of £22bn of cuts ("efficiency savings") behind headlines of £8bn investment. There are plenty of other examples. It doesn't seem even to blush in the face of all of this.

Yuna Mason, Sales

The Tweet at the bottom of the list indicates the impact assessment has already been carried out. But then the article says it will take into account the views of the pharmacy bodies (which ones?) So has it been completed already or not?

Emma Weinbren, Marketing

Sorry for the confusion on this, the DH has not yet finished the impact assessment and is waiting for the consultation to end. Mr Burt said it would take into account the views of PSNC and a "wide range" of pharmacy bodies, but did not specify which ones. Hope this helps.

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