Pharmacies at risk due to proposed cuts, claims Lincolnshire Co-op CEO Ursula Lidbetter

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The chief executive of Lincolnshire Co-op has said that proposed government cuts to community pharmacies could result in a number being closed across the county.

New figures released this week have suggested that 245 pharmacies could close in the East Midlands after the government announced plans to cut funding levels by 12% for the rest of the financial year.

Another 7.4% cut on current levels is then forecasted for the following year.

Lincolnshire Co-op chief executive Ursula Lidbetter said that if these cuts go ahead, it would put serious strain on smaller rural pharmacies.

She said: “We have a small number of pharmacies, which have low volumes and they would be stretched by this. We would obviously try everything we can to keep them open by doing innovative things and trying to provide different services.

“The last resort would be to close a pharmacy. Sometimes we might look to move it somewhere, which might get some more volume through.”

However, it is not just Lincolnshire Co-op pharmacies that are at risk.

Many more smaller rural pharmacies could start to struggle to make ends meet if funding is cut.

Pharmacies in general, I think have been overlooked to a large extent by government in thinking about health provision because we know that hospitals, A&E, doctors are all struggling with the volume of people wanting to use the services and some of that could very easily be done in a pharmacy.

Lincolnshire Co-op has previously campaigned against the cuts, meeting with MPs across the county to try and show them how pharmacies could benefit the community and also lift the continued strain on the NHS.

“I think the most important thing to do is see the opportunity in pharmacy,” Ursula added. “The government need to see that there is a network of over 11,000 pharmacies across the country and they’re part of the solution to the pressures on the NHS.

“Cutting them out is counter intuitive when we see it as part of the solution and we’re very willing to do a lot more to support patients and to support the NHS.”