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Leaked letters reveal impact of cuts to rural pharmacies

March 28, 2017 9:47 AM

Leaked letters written by Jeremy Hunt have revealed the true impact of the government's cuts to rural community pharmacies. South Lakes MP Tim Farron has slammed the letters as "damning", saying they show how "short-sighted" the government's plans were.

The government has cut a subsidy for pharmacies in rural and deprived areas by £208million in 2017/18.

The government had previously denied that these changes were likely to lead to pharmacy closures, with the Pharmacies Minister David Mowat telling MPs in October that "we do not believe that community pharmacies will necessarily close as a result of these cuts."

However, leaked letters seen by The Telegraph reveal that behind closed doors the government thought otherwise. In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote that the cut would mean that "500-900 pharmacies will close".

Tim said: "There are serious questions to answer about whether the government was being open and honest with MPs and the public about the damaging effects of their plans.

"These plans are a complete false economy, and will end up costing the taxpayer even more in the long-run. If rural community pharmacies end up closing, then people's first port of call for medical advice and medicines will be removed from the heart of their communities. More people will then be forced to take unnecessary trips to their GP and even A&E, which is far less convenient for patients and far less efficient for the NHS.

"In areas like South Lakeland with a much older population than average, the need to focus on preventative measures to keep people healthy is all the more important. We need more investment in pharmacies and community services, not less."