Former Liberal Democrat party leader Mr Farron said “many independent pharmacies in [his constituency of] South Lakes are in danger of going out of business”, because of the funding cuts in England and clawbacks – including the Category M clawback which ended last month, and the 17p-per-item price drop announced in July.
It is “simply scandalous” that the government does not fully cover the cost of prescription items dispensed, Mr Farron told C+D last week (August 7).
“The NHS repeatedly tells people to use pharmacies to reduce pressure on GPs and A&E departments, but then the government doesn’t fund them for that work properly,” he said.
Mr Farron claimed the funding cuts had left one pharmacy in his constituency £5,000 out of pocket for the medicines it dispensed in one month, a situation he described as “shocking”.
Pharmacy closures “simply not good enough”
Responding to C+D’s exclusive investigation, which revealed for the first time the locations of the 140 pharmacies that have closed in the wake of the funding cuts in England, Mr Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale in Cumbria – also known as South Lakes – told C+D: “It’s simply not good enough.”
While “pharmacies in South Lakes have weathered the storm, with some being taken over by national chains…many are struggling”, Mr Farron told C+D.
“Local pharmacies provide a vital service close at hand in many small rural communities across South Lakes. If pharmacies close, the next nearest pharmacy can be many miles away, in areas with little in the way of reliable public transport.
“Large national chains might be able to cross-subsidise their pharmacy side as a ‘loss leader’, but that option simply isn’t available for many independent pharmacies.”
“Core funding” needed
The petition – which Mr Farron launched in the spring – follows the parliamentary motion he tabled in February, which called for the government to establish an Essential Community Pharmacy Scheme, to provide “core funding so that community pharmacies won’t be forced to close”, he announced on his website.
At the time, a spokesperson for Mr Farron told C+D that the scheme would comprise funding for community pharmacies which are located four miles from another one “and/or” are independent or part of a small chain.
To sign the petition, click here.