- Around 3,000 pharmacies could disappear from high streets because of cuts
- Free service set to be scrapped is provision of pill organisers or ‘dosette boxes’
- For some, changes could spell the end of an independent lifestyle, say critics
More than a million sick, disabled and elderly people may have to pay to receive vital drugs as a result of cuts being forced through by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, pharmacists warn today.
Patients on long-term medication and unable to collect their prescriptions could be charged several hundred pounds a year for preparing drugs and home delivery – currently offered free by pharmacies – as £321 million of funding cuts begin to bite.
For some, the changes could spell the end of an independent lifestyle, say critics.
A free service likely to be scrapped during the £321million cuts is the provision of daily pill organisers, or ‘dosette boxes’ (pictured)
Another free service likely to be scrapped is the provision of daily pill organisers, or ‘dosette boxes’, which arrange medicines into compartments to ensure those with complex drug regimes don’t overdose.
‘It could mean the difference between elderly patients being able to continue living independently at home or having to move into residential care, if they cannot afford fees pharmacists are now having to apply,’ said Ian Strachan, chairman of the National Pharmacy Association, which represents 7,000 independent pharmacists.
One pharmacist is now having to charge patients £250 a year to make up dosette boxes for them. The NPA warned that a quarter of pharmacies – about 3,000 – could disappear from high streets because of the cuts.
Extended opening hours and access to walk-in consultations will also be affected.
Age UK’s charity director Caroline Abrahams said: ‘For those older people who struggle to get out and about, home delivery of their essential medicines is a real lifeline and it would be extremely worrying if this became a paid-for service no longer available to all who need it.’
About 1.5 million patients now benefit from home deliveries.