Labour MP Michael Dugher tabled an urgent question in parliament on Monday (October 17), following the government's proposals to slash pharmacy funding in England by 12% for December 2016 until March 2017.
During the debate, MPs questioned Mr Mowat (see box) on how many pharmacies could close as a result of the cuts, how the drop in funding could impact the sector’s ability to ease NHS pressures, and how vulnerable patient groups could be affected.
Mr Mowat emphasised the government has spent “the past ten months trying to get this right”, and referred to the GP pharmacist scheme, as a way the government intends to “embrace the pharmacy profession”.
On Tuesday (October 18), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) raised a number of questions in response to the minister’s remarks during the debate. It called Mr Mowat’s denial that 3,000 pharmacies could be at risk of closure “not credible”.
“Most recently the government has retreated from its previously stated aim and said that there is no intention to close pharmacies although they ‘recognise pharmacies may close as a consequence of their proposals’,” the negotiator said.
“We do not believe this change of position is credible in the face of the approach taken in the proposals,” it added.
Labour MPs Mr Dugher and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth penned an open letter to Mr Mowat on Tuesday (October 18) calling for him to clarify the “glaring factual inaccuracies” he made during the debate.
Here are some of the questions Mr Mowat faced on Monday, and his responses:
Twitter reaction to the debate
Cuts were agreed with the Treasury BEFORE they were announced last December, an impact assessment that still isn't ready is meaningless https://t.co/m5Yusxuxks— Thomas Bisset (@tpbisset) October 17, 2016