Our local pharmacy needs help

Portobello’s local pharmacy for 150 years D R Evans is threatened with closure because of new government rules to cut funding for prescriptions.

DR-2Pharmacist and owner of D R Evans for 28 years, Chris Soteriou (pic, on far right) says that just before Christmas the Department of Health said it would cut the amount of money given to pharmacies by 6% per prescription, which will destroy small pharmacies budgets. The plan is to use a ‘hub and spoke’ method of medicine dispensing instead of local pharmacies. “That means a central hub which will carry out all dispensing and then distribute either directly to patients or via satellite pharmacies,” explains Soteriou. The pilot for ‘hub and spoke’ was carried out by Boots which operates about 2,500 pharmacies.

Further cuts are in the pipeline and speaking at a meeting of MPs and peers at the All-Party Pharmacy Group in January Minister of State for Community and Social Care Alistair Burt said the extent of the closures would depend on the ability of individual pharmacies to cope with NHS funding cuts and estimates it could be between 1,000 and 3,000, out of 11,674 overall. Soteriou isn’t optimistic: “After a few years we will have to close, when it is no longer viable to stay open.”

“They haven’t thought it through,” says Soteriou of the government plans. He is especially worried about older people. “We provide a service to elderly people, deliver medicine to them and chase up prescriptions when they don’t get their in time. We fill up their pill dispensers for them. I don’t know how its going to work especially for elderly people who can’t travel very far.”

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is leading the response of the independent sector to proposals from the Government for ‘efficiencies’ in community pharmacy. We are asking pharmacy teams to help gather evidence to show politicians and officials that local pharmacies are much more than just a distribution point for medicines. If you want to sign a petition to save our pharmacy just pop in to D R Evans.


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