Last Friday, Tom Brake MP held a public meeting of constituents to discuss Government cuts to local pharmacies and the effect this could have on the area and to allow local residents to make their voices heard on these damaging cuts.
The National Pharmacy Association say that as a result of Government budget cuts, London could lose almost a third of its pharmacies. That would be over 750 pharmacies.
Pharmacists in Carshalton and Wallington and across the U.K. offer a range of essential services for patients which also have the advantage of taking pressure off GP surgeries. The range includes monitoring medication, providing advice, warfarin blood tests etc.
Pharmacies also offer access to services related to smoking cessation, alcohol and weight management, the flu jab service and methadone support.
It is crucial that these services continue to be easily accessible, especially in rural communities and for the most vulnerable. While Sutton is not a rural community, there are pockets that are more deprived than others and one area, Clockhouse, has only one pharmacy and to lose a pharmacy in these areas will have a significant negative impact.
At the meeting, attendees heard from Reena Barai (an award-winning local pharmacist who runs a pharmacy in Erskine Road), Cllr Simon Wales (the Deputy Leader of Sutton Council) and Dr. Brendan Hudson (the Chair of Sutton CCG) - all of whom answered residents’ questions and offered an insight into the effects these changes will have.
Reena Barai said:
“It won't be big businesses that feel these cuts the hardest - it will be small businesses in our area; businesses that will no longer be able to afford the same level of highly-skilled staff, or that will have to start finding other ways to cope, which can only mean a reduced service for patients.
Community pharmacies are a local lifeline in the NHS - yet the Department of Health has made it clear that they do not see this value.
These plans will increase pressure on already-overburdened NHS services locally - and with GP surgeries, doctors and nurses and A&E departments all overstretched, we surely should not be closing our pharmacies but rather using them more than ever.
The great turnout at this event was a huge show of strength for this campaign and the momentum we have. ”
Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, who chaired the meeting, said:
“These changes are nothing more than a backdoor health cut from the government. We must stand up and let the Conservative government know that these pharmacies provide a vital service in our community and we will not allow them to be heartlessly cut.
The cuts are due to be made right at the start of winter, at a time when doctors surgeries will already be feeling the strain. The Conservatives are happy to cut off their nose to spite their face and are showing no regard for the kind of joined-up thinking that our NHS needs. In fact, the Government has not carried out an impact assessment, so the Government is ordering funding cuts, without knowing which pharmacies may close, how many patients will be affected or the number of people who will lose their jobs.
I am in agreement with Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Norman Lamb when he says that we need a new deal for the NHS. It is time to stop using our health service as a political football and to establish a cross-party commission to ensure the NHS gets the funding it needs.”
Tom Brake and the Liberal Democrats are actively campaigning against these cuts to pharmacies. If you would like to help in this campaign and particularly if you would be available to delivery some information leaflets to local residents, please contact Tom’s office on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8255 8155.