Writing to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP following meeting with Bradford pharmacists, Imran has urged the Government to scrap their plans to introduce radical changes to pharmacy funding.
Announced in December 2015 as part of the Department for Health’s drive to make £22 billion in efficiency savings in the health budget by 2020/21, the changes to the pharmacy funding formulas would seek to reduce the number of pharmacies across the country, despite the vital role that they play in community healthcare at a time when GP waiting times are increasing and access to other healthcare services are becoming increasingly difficult.
Although David Mowat MP, the Government Minister responsible for the changes declared in September that the funding changes would be delayed following mounting pressure, Imran has written to the Health Secretary urging him to permanently scrap the ill-thought out plans to change the funding formula on the grounds that changes to funding will close pharmacies in vulnerable areas, drive more people into the waiting rooms of already overstretched GPs, and will increase health inequalities in Bradford.
During his meeting with Bradford Pharmacists, concerns were also raised with Imran regarding the implementation of the Pharmacy Access Scheme designed to protect important pharmacies, an issue already raised by Imran in the House of Commons demanding guarantees that the Scheme be properly funded and targeted at those pharmacies in rural areas, areas of high deprivation and health inequality, and areas with limited GP provision.
Speaking on the changes to pharmacy funding, Imran said:
“The Government’s plans to make changes to pharmacy funding are extremely ill-thought out and I am very concerned that despite the Minister for Community Health delaying the plans in September, they will still go ahead in the future and put vital pharmacies that serve communities in Bradford at risk of closures and redundancies, and will increase the already high levels of health inequalities in the District as a result.
“When I met last week with pharmacists from Bradford who are on the frontline of the healthcare profession every day to hear first-hand their thoughts on the changes to the funding formula, they were overwhelmingly in favour of abandoning them, citing fears that they will be forced to make redundancies and that GPs will have to pick up their work, and it is clear that the Government do not have the confidence of the healthcare profession and cannot continue with their plans.
“Jeremy Hunt now needs to come out and admit that the plans were a bad idea, and that he will permanently scrap them and go back to the drawing board as they will harm the health of communities, fail to save money in the long-term by increasing the number of people turning to GPs as a first resort, and increase health inequalities in Bradford and across the country.”