Six per cent. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? What this figure represents is the size of the cuts that the Department of Health has decided to impose on community pharmacies in the UK. In money terms, it translates to roughly £170million. So pharmacists the nation over are understandably concerned.
When you think about it in money terms, that six per cent is starting to look rather scary indeed. What is even more scary, however, is the fact that these savage cuts are coming at a bad time; a time when pharmacists are expected to shoulder more responsibilities in order to take the pressure off your local GP and A&E department.
Don’t get me wrong, taking the pressure off other vital services can only be a good thing. After all, A&E isn’t supposed to help deal with conjunctivitis. GPs aren’t there to hand antibiotics out like sweets to people with colds. Your pharmacist can give you something for that gunky eye. They can send you home with Night Nurse for your sniffles. This, among countless other things, is what they are there for.
Just don’t expect them to be doing this forever when the government has announced dangerous cuts that, really, amount to little more than this:
“Hey, let’s tell pharmacies everywhere that they have to shoulder a heavier burden, but let’s also cut their funding because we want a super fast train.”
What do pharmacists do?
Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who, together with their team, provide a wide array of essential services. Things like blood pressure monitoring, smoking cessation, medicine usage reviews, needle exchange, inhaler&asthma advice, medicine waste disposal and seasonal vaccinations are commonplace in every pharmacy you’re likely to find yourself in.
Above all, your pharmacist’s primary responsibility is to ensure that you go home with the appropriate medication. In the event that your overwhelmed GP makes a harmful mistake on your prescription, your pharmacist is there to spot the error. The clinical check they perform on every single tablet that leaves the premises is immeasurably vital.
Pharmacists are far more than pill-counting people in a lab coats. They are important individuals; a safety net at the end of the prescribing process; essential cogs in the machine that is our healthcare system.
Unfortunately, we appear to be living in a time where the government is prioritising high-speed trains and fancy leaflets over the health and well-being of the population.
What can we do to help?
Pharmacies need to keep moving forward and improving. They can, and will, do more to ease the burden on the ravaged NHS and to ensure that patients all over the UK have the high-quality service they need. But they can’t do this when their funding is stripped away from them.
We need to make a difference, and a good place to start would be signing this petition. If we reach that 100,000 signatures, the government will be forced to listen. And who knows, it may turn out that they do care after all.