[S]outh Lakes MP Tim Farron has tabled a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to take action to save local community pharmacies.
Many independent pharmacies in the South Lakes are in danger of going out of business because of reductions in payments for prescriptions by NHS England. Often, the money pharmacies receive from the NHS doesn’t even cover the cost of the drug being dispensed.
In one shocking case, last November, Collins and Butterworth in Hawkshead received £5000 less in NHS payments than their total drug cost for the month.
The money they received from the NHS dropped by 12% in 2016 and a further 8% last year.
Tim’s Parliamentary motion calls for the creation of an ‘Essential Community Pharmacy Scheme’ so that independent pharmacies get funding upfront, protecting them from the costs wholesalers charge.
Tim said: “When we receive a prescription from the doctors, most of us would assume that between the prescription charge and what the NHS pays, pharmacies wouldn’t be out of pocket.
“However, the scandal is community pharmacies here in the South Lakes are losing thousands of pounds every month just for providing a vital NHS service. The erosion of NHS payments means that they often don’t cover their basic drug costs, let alone the very many running costs they face.
“Large national chains can obviously subsidise their pharmacy operation with other sales in store – but that option is not open to smaller pharmacies in some of our town and villages. Yet, in those places, pharmacies provide an even more vital service, especially for the most vulnerable in our society.
“All of this is clearly unsustainable and many of our local community pharmacies may be forced to close unless urgent action is taken by the Government.
“That’s why I’m calling on the Government to set up an Essential Community Pharmacy Scheme so that our local pharmacies can be shielded from the high cost demanded by the big drug companies.”