Why pharmacies across Wirral are turning off the lights

Pharmacies across Merseyside are wearing black today and working in darkness as part of a “funeral” protest.

Victoria Pharmacy on Victoria Road in New Brighton is one of many taking part in the protest calling for more NHS funding for pharmacies across the country.

Staff there said they “want people to see how bad it is” pointing out that if the pharmacy goes under, the Post Office that runs in the same building is likely to go too.

The pharmacy remains open but shutters were drawn today, lights were turned off, and staff wore black as they called on the government “to reverse the cuts and stop the closures”.

According to the National Pharmacy Association, around 10 pharmacies are closing every week. It said since 2015, funding for pharmacies in England have been cut in real terms by 40% and over 1,400 pharmacies have been forced to close during that time.

Pharmacies say this is due to NHS funding for prescriptions not covering the cost of drugs meaning they lose money when handing out medication.

Michelle Carter (pictured, lead image) who works in New Brighton said, “Some drugs cost us £10 but the government only gives us about £6,” adding, “The drugs we are buying in are so much more expensive than what they are paying us so we are running at a loss and obviously we have to pay the pharmacists and the bills.

“People are closing because they can’t go on any longer and there’s going to come a point where there is going to be no pharmacies.”

She said, “What would you do without us? What would you do without a pharmacy?”, adding, “Something’s got to give. We can’t carry on. If the pharmacy goes, what is going to happen to the Post Office? We have got to be one of the busiest on the high street which supports everyone else in the area.”

Joanne Kettle

Joanne Kettle who has worked at the pharmacy for over 30 years said, “It’s a shame. We have people coming to us and we are the only people they see all day. We are the only people they can see and talk to. We are vital.”

Klaudia Barcik, the pharmacist in New Brighton, said medication prices had seen an increase due to shortages worldwide as well as supply chain issues due to Brexit, adding, “If you have got less medication but you still have demand, the cost is going to go up again.”

She said, “We are at breaking point,” adding, “It’s heartbreaking because I want the best for my patients but I can’t given the medication because I don’t have the means to provide it with.

“If a pharmacy closes, you still have patients that need those prescriptions which puts a strain on the other pharmacies who are still open.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said they couldn’t comment due to the general election campaign.

Lead image: Michelle Carter works in both the pharmacy and the Post Office on Victoria Road. All images credit: Ed Barnes

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Victoria Pharmacy taking part in Day of Action for pharmacies across the UK