Proposed government cuts to pharmacy budgets over two years as part of an NHS efficiency drive have concerned communities across South Bristol.
Health Minister David Mowat announced in October that community pharmacies will see budgets slashed by 4 per cent to £2.7 billion in 2016/17, with plans for further reduction in funds by 3.4 per cent in 2017-18.
But in a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Mowat said “every penny saved by this re-set will be reinvested and reallocated back into our NHS to ensure the very best patient care.”
Protection for pharmacies within a mile of each other will disappear – meaning areas with a high density of pharmacies will be at risk.
Peter Badham is Managing Director of Badham Pharmacies, which has a branch in Filwood.
He told The Knowledge: “If they want to cut the number of pharmacies and make them more efficient and to save customers money – there ought to be a rational distribution to ensure patient access.
“Pharmacies like Filwood perform an essential function… It’s much more than prescriptions. In an area of need like Knowle West, these services are critical to patients’ health and wellbeing and reducing costs of the health service…”
At Badham Pharmacy free services, subject to criteria, include weight management, cholesterol testing and flu vaccines as well as smoking cessation, diabetes testing and sexual health services. It also works with the Bristol Drugs Project for clients to have supervised consumption.
Bristol South MP Karin Smyth said she had been approached by constituents and pharmacists worried about the plans.
At a Commons debate she told government ministers to “place community need at the heart of their healthcare thinking” and was concerned closures “could fall in the wrong places because of a lack of strategic planning”.
She said Bristol South had a high density of pharmacies, high deprivation levels, and severe GP recruitment and access difficulties.
“Research shows high percentages – around a third – of those who currently seek initial advice from a pharmacy would make a GP appointment instead if the pharmacy closed. In areas of high deprivation this percentage soars as high as 80 per cent.”