The Lib Dem/Tory Coalition undertook a massive top-down reorganisation of the NHS which wasted billions of pounds and delivered longer waiting times and even delays to ambulances and for most people seeking to see a GP.
Not happy with this record of failure, the Government now intends to push ahead with dramatic cuts to community pharmacies. This £170 million cut will cause further problems. Cutting community pharmacy funding could end some intervention services altogether, causing costs to rise further up the NHS chain in hospitals or GP services.
Local pharmacies often go above and beyond their duty in what they offer, including out of hours free prescription deliveries to older or less mobile people, smoking and alcohol cessation services, vaccinations and support, service and advice to people with a whole range of conditions.
I’ve had over 500 people raise concerns about the Government cut. Many from people who can’t travel further if their local pharmacy closes. It is estimated that eighteen pharmacies could close in Southwark, with inevitable pressure on overstretched GPs and hospitals.
I was proud to open the new St George’s Pharmacy. The owner, Atul, is well known locally and has helped people well beyond obligations. Atul says he is worried that in-year cuts could reduce his services to our local area and longer-term threaten the pharmacy altogether. I will keep putting pressure on Ministers to prevent their plans causing greater NHS damage.
Losing pharmacies is not the only current threat to our high streets. The Government is also trying to franchise off the crown Post Offices on Blackfriars Road and Walworth Road. They could end up losing services, with lower paid staff in privatised outlets being subsidised through tax credits or housing benefit to far higher levels. Their future is uncertain and many people have already signed my petition on the issue. You can too at: http://www.boslabour.org.uk/walworth_road_post_office_petition
To try and support some local businesses and celebrate our area’s lengthy contribution to the food and drink sector, I’m holding a Bermondsey Food and Drink reception in Parliament on 21st November. It will be a great opportunity to showcase our local quality products and I hope all at Westminster will come and see what businesses including Southwark Brewery, Maltby & Greek and Anspatch & Hobday have to offer. If you’d like to attend too then please let me know in advance by emailing me at: Neil.Coyle.MP@parliament.uk