Pharmacies across Shropshire have helped rally support in the fight against Government plans to axe millions of pounds of funding to high street chemists.
Staff at family-run business Lunts Pharmacies, which has sites in Shrewsbury, Craven Arms and Pontesbury, collected almost 3,000 signatures on the Support Your Local Pharmacy petition, which was presented to Downing Street yesterday (Tuesday, May 24).
Martin Lunt, managing director of Lunts, said: “The people of Shropshire have expressed huge concerns to our pharmacy staff over recent months.
“They are fearful that if these funding cuts go ahead community pharmacies will be forced to close.
“The public recognises that community pharmacy teams play a vital role in delivering NHS services at the frontline.
“For some time now there has been a big push to encourage patients to use pharmacies as their first point of contact when it comes to minor ailments.
“The theory behind this is to reduce the burden on GPs who are already over-stretched.
“This proposed funding cut would significantly reduce people’s access to community support and advice and place further pressure on GP practices and accident and emergency services.
“We hope Government ministers will take note of the public’s strength of feeling on this issue and reconsider their plans.”
The Government announced earlier this year it’s plan to axe £170m from its community pharmacy budget, prompting action.
The Support Your Local Pharmacy petition has been led by the National Pharmacy Association and nationally it has been signed by more than one million people.
Nicky Pearson, dispensing technician at Lunts Pharmacy in Pontesbury, stressed how the Government proposals had angered the local community.
“We’ve had people coming in for no other reason than just to sign the petition,” she said.
“People are very upset that the Government is planning to cut vital community services in this way.”
“In many rural areas pharmacies serve as a life-line service. For some of our more elderly and immobile patients our drivers might be the only person they see that day when he delivers their prescriptions.
“This will be the same across the country and if pharmacies are forced to close this will be disastrous.”