The ‘Support Your Local Pharmacy’ campaign stepped up a gear this month when the petition reached an incredible 1.5 million signatures. With some 30,000 people registering their objections to the pharmacy reforms each day, the petition is thought to be the biggest circulating in the UK and the country’s biggest ever healthcare petition.
Pharmacy bodies, including PSNC, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and Pharmacy Voice, launched the campaign back in February in response to the Government’s proposed reforms, which include a six per cent funding cut that threatens around 3,000 pharmacies with closure.
PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said it was “fantastic” that so many people were supporting the campaign and praised “the hard work that pharmacy teams have been putting in”. She encouraged them to keep the momentum going until the petition is delivered to Downing Street on Tuesday 24 May.
Ian Strachan, NPA chairman, added that it is “absolutely clear that the Department of Health has misjudged how people feel about local pharmacies”, while Rob Darracott, Pharmacy Voice chief executive, claimed that “at a time when GP services are overstretched, it would be madness to disinvest in the healthcare professionals ready to help you on the high street”.
Despite widespread opposition to the cuts, when the issue was raised recently during Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron implied that pharmacies are not part of the NHS frontline and are therefore less
deserving of public funding than doctors, nurses and A&E.
Mr Strachan hit back in an open letter to Mr Cameron, insisting that he had been “poorly advised” and that pharmacies are in fact, “front and centre of the health system in this country”. He finished by imploring Mr Cameron to “think again” about the “dangerous experiment” which risks losing “a part of the health system that holds the key to solving many of its problems”.