OVER 1,300 local chemists have urged Rishi Sunak – whose mother was a pharmacist – to save community pharmacies that are “unable to survive” without government funding.
In a letter to the chancellor, they also cautioned the chancellor that without support the “inevitable result” will be mass closures leading to “unemployment and more pressure on the NHS as people turn to GPs and A&E departments for the help that they can currently get conveniently in pharmacies”.
“As the son of a pharmacist, we are quite sure that you won’t wish to preside over the irreversible decline of community pharmacy, which has done so much over the last year to prove its worth and save lives,” said the letter.
Sunak’s father was a GP, and his mother ran a chemist shop in Southampton for about two decades until 2014.
The chancellor has earlier highlighted that he “grew up watching my parents serve our local community with dedication”.
“From working in my mum’s tiny chemist shop to my experience building large businesses, I have seen first-hand how politicians should support free enterprise and innovation to ensure our future prosperity,” he says in a biography on his website.
The letter underscored that, without enhanced pharmacy funding, many chemists will be “unable to survive – limiting access to health services in villages, towns, urban areas and in rural communities such as those in your own constituency”.
According to a report in the Mirror, “thousands of family-run chemists could be forced to close their doors after years of chronic underfunding — with as many as three-quarters under threat over the next four years”.
In an article for the paper, former Conservative health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: “Our local chemists, some of the quiet heroes of the NHS, are being abandoned to financial ruin through consistent underfunding and the costs of staying open during coronavirus.
“Out of touch NHS England executives and Treasury bean counters are quibbling over an increase in pharmacy funding that represents a minuscule proportion of the NHS budget, but would keep thousands of pharmacies from going to the wall.”
A government spokesperson said the nation recognised that “pharmacies have been providing vital services to communities” during the pandemic and they have been provided with “targeted support including £370 million in advance payments to support pharmacies in maintaining medicine supplies and providing health advice”.
“Pharmacies have also been able to access a range of other government support including the Small Business Grant Fund which provides a £10,000 grant per property for those in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief, as well as government-guaranteed loans,” he added.
“We have protected jobs in the sector by supporting the wages of people through the furlough scheme as well, and we’ll continue to support those returning to work from furlough through a £1,000 bonus for each member of staff who has been retained.”