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My central argument is that this is a cut to preventive healthcare and as such is completely irrational, makes no sense and will be a false economy. It will end up with fewer people accessing pharmacies than at the moment, resulting in more pressure on GPs and A&E departments.
I have made the point to the Government before that, by all means, they should do more to get more bang for their buck, to ensure that money is working effectively and that people get good preventive care in their communities, but they should not cut the budget for preventive care. In response to my earlier intervention, the Minister said that the cut was compensated for by the extra investment in GP practices, but that is misleading because the total investment in GP practices for pharmacies will be £112 million between now and 2020, yet in one year, by 2017-18, this budget will be down by £208 million. It is a massive cut to preventive care. It makes no sense at all and is the precise opposite of what the Government claim they seek to do on shifting resources within the NHS.