Petition to save our pharmacies

Pharmacist William Wong at his Evergreen Pharmacy on Highbury Road, Bulwell.
Pharmacist William Wong at his Evergreen Pharmacy on Highbury Road, Bulwell.

A Bulwell chemist’s shop is so concerned about its future that it has launched a petition, calling for people to support their local pharmacies.

William Wong and members of his family run the Evergreen Pharmacy on Highbury Road but fear proposed government cuts to the NHS funding pharmacies receive will have dire consequences for business and patients.

Mr Wong, 34, who lives in Arnold, has run the pharmacy for three years.

He said: “Pharmacies offer many services and we need more staff to cover otherwise they will not cope with increasing numbers of customers.

“Services like the smoking cessation service - New Leaf - are being cut back frrom 12 weeks to six. Patients are no longer having good access to the service.

“Big companies like Boots which own may branches will not really be affected because of their strong financial background.

“But it will squeeze independents and they will close. Patients will have no choice but to go to big companies. They will monopolise the market by killing off local businesses.

“We regard our customers as our friends and we will visit them in their homes if necessary if they want any help or advice about medicines they are taking. I don’t think big companies are prepared to offer this sort of service.”

Up to 3,000 local pharmacies in England are at risk of closure because of cuts by the Department of Health, the campaign group Pharmacy Voice, which represents high street chemists, has said.

It warns that without access to a community pharmacist one in four people would visit their GP instead.

But the government says outlets in some areas are too close together and proposes giving more people access to a community pharmacy.

The Department of Health in England says the average community pharmacy receives about £220,000 in NHS funding each year.

The government wants to cut funding to reduce its bill by £170m and give more money to certain pharmacies to make sure everyone has access to a community pharmacy.

Prof Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, said: “People are increasingly aware of the role a local pharmacy plays in dispensing vital health services.

“Advising and helping people to treat minor ailments is a starting point, but increasingly, pharmacy is playing a key role in helping people lead healthier lives through interventions like smoking cessation and weight management programmes.

“These are important stepping stones to increasing life expectancy in some of our most disadvantaged communities.

“Losing a local pharmacy in these areas is simply not an option.”