Up to 100 pharmacies in Lancashire could close following savage government cuts to funding.
Pharmacists have warned of a severely curtailed service in the county after revealing the impact of cuts in funding from the government.
At a time when the Department of Health are asking patients to seek advice from pharmacists with minor ailments it seems illogical to then start a closure programme of pharmacies
And health leaders have warned that closures will pile more pressure on already struggling services like GPs and A&E units.
Many county pharmacies, particularly the smaller independent businesses, say they are feeling the pinch.
Dr David Wrigley, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, said: “These closures would be bad news for patients and bad news for the NHS.
“At a time when the Department of Health are asking patients to seek advice from pharmacists with minor ailments it seems illogical to then start a closure programme of pharmacies.
“Pharmacists offer a fantastic service and are able to advise patients on a whole variety of illnesses.
“The government needs to rethink and support pharmacies and ensure none of them close”
The changes have been the subject of fierce opposition from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Condition, which negotiates payments with the Department of Health.
Pharmacies get about 90 per cent of their income from the money government pays for dispensing prescriptions. It costs the taxpayer £2.8bn a year across England and Wales.
Now the government wants to cut the funding pharmacies get by 12 per cent in the first year and four per cent next year, followed by an extra cut of seven per cent the following year.
Around two million people have already signed a petition against the proposal.
The shock statistics on likely county closures were revealed to The Gazette in the wake of a visit by NHS England to the Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Board.
NHS officers Sheena Wood and Jessica Partington told Board members that they now have a legal obligation to respond and comment within 45 days on any proposals for pharmacy mergers.