THE Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Winchester has voiced his support for the Primary Care Services bill.

Put forward by Daisy Cooper MP on Wednesday, July 12, the bill plans to force the Government to appoint an independent expert to set out the issues, and to advise what improvements to primary care services are needed, including what is needed for GPs, NHS dentistry, community pharmacies, and mental health services.

Local candidate Danny Chambers was speaking as local pharmacies are under strain with Lloyds in Sainsbury's Badger Farm closing earlier this year due to “changing market conditions”.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Cooper said: “Community pharmacy has long been overlooked but is crucial to the proper functioning of our entire health care service. It is under increasing strain due to a lack of funding and a shortage of pharmacists. In order to fill vacancy gaps, pharmacies use locum pharmacists, but locum costs now look to be around 50 per cent higher than in 2019.

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“To make matters worse 16 per cent of pharmacies responding to the Community Pharmacy First's 2023 Pharmacy Pressures Survey reported that they don’t think their pharmacy will survive another year and only 7 per cent of respondents considered their pharmacy business to be profitable.

“And we can already see the impact this is having. For example, Peter from Winchester used to go to the pharmacy in Sainsbury’s until this year when it was closed. The location was perfect, plenty of space to park and easily accessible for disabled people.

Hampshire Chronicle: Winchester Liberal Democrats candidate Danny Chambers meeting with Springvale Pharmacy pharmacist Eric NorgbeyWinchester Liberal Democrats candidate Danny Chambers meeting with Springvale Pharmacy pharmacist Eric Norgbey (Image: Danny Chambers)“Now it is closed, Peter takes a special hour-long round trip to the next pharmacy, along heavily congested roads to a car park on a hill with only one disabled parking bay.

“As someone that is mobility impaired, his access to pharmacy services has been severely limited and his independence curtailed as a direct result of the pharmacy closures taking place across the country. This situation is completely unsustainable.”

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Danny Chambers said: “Peter's story is not uncommon. I constantly meet people who say pharmaceutical services in Winchester have deteriorated. One person I spoke to said they have been on four separate trips to the pharmacy to pick up just one prescription as there are issues in the supply chain meaning medicines arrive at different times.

“I fully support Daisy Cooper MP's bill which will shine a light on the shortcomings in our healthcare system. I recently met the pharmacist Eric Norgbey of Springvale Pharmacy (see photo above) who outlined the challenges he is facing in providing the medicines his customers need.”