Kent County Council is calling for the Department of Health to reconsider its plans to change funding of community pharmacies, over fears it could lead to dozens of rural and suburban sites closing.
KCC Cabinet Member for Public Health and Adult Social Care, Graham Gibbens is writing on behalf of the council to express concerns about a current consultation which proposes a six per cent cut.
Council members say it would have a considerable impact on access to pharmaceutical services, in particular those that serve rural villages, and to specific members of the population such as the vulnerable and elderly.
It’s believed over a quarter of Kent’s 280 pharmacies could be affected adversely by the proposal, leading to reductions in services and even closures.
Graham Gibbens said: “We have numerous suburban communities in Kent served by small pharmacies which could be at risk, as they are dependent on NHS income to remain viable.
“The pharmacies provide valuable services in these rural areas, often acting as a community hub to the village and preventing social isolation, and we are concerned this will be lost.
“We are disappointed by the consultation and its proposals which come at a time when we should be using our pharmacies even more to reduce the burden on GPs and A&Es.
“We are standing up for rural and isolated residents, along with local pharmacies who are an important community link and business provider, and we call for the plans to be reconsidered.”
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 transferred responsibility for the Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) from the Primary Care Trusts to the Health and Wellbeing Boards on the 1st April 2013.
Kent Health and Wellbeing Board undertook a thorough review of all the pharmaceutical services in Kent and published its PNA in 2014.
It found that although overall pharmaceutical service provision in Kent was good, it was felt that the current provision of “standard 40 hour” pharmacies should be maintained especially in rural villages and that the current provision of “100 hour” pharmacies should also be retained.
The Department of Health consultation is also considering a Pharmacy Access scheme and the council has asked to be involved in this. It is appealing for consultation with all relevant stakeholders, such as the Health & Wellbeing Boards, before any changes are made.