BOLTON South East MP Yasmin Qureshi has hit out at the government after it was revealed that eight community pharmacies in her constituency could be forced to close.

The Government has announced that community pharmacies will face a 12 per cent cut in current funding levels for the rest of this financial year, and a 7.4 per cent cut on current levels the year after.

Research produced by the House of Commons Libraries for the Labour Health Team has shown how many pharmacies are at risk in each region.

In Bolton South East, eight pharmacies could close, and in the North West overall, 461 could be forced to close.

The Government has announced a Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) to ease the burden of the cuts on areas where there are fewer pharmacies and higher health needs, but the scheme will benefit some regions significantly more than others.

In Bolton South East just nine per cent of pharmacies are eligible for the pharmacy access scheme and In the North West region as a whole, just eight per cent. of pharmacies are eligible for the scheme.

Ms Qureshi, who voted against the cuts in a Parliamentary vote, said: “Pharmacies are vital local assets and these cuts are totally short-sighted.

“Pharmacies provide very important face-to-face health services, particularly for the elderly, disabled and those with long-term illnesses, and any pharmacy closures or service cutbacks will only cause extra pressure to be piled on already-overstretched GP and A&E services.

“Most local pharmacies are individually-owned.

“People come to them to ask about various ailments and health issues, and the pharmacists often recommend non-prescription medications, thus saving enormous amounts of GPs’ time and, of course, helping to prevent people from going to A&E.

“Such pharmacies also deliver medication to many long-term unwell and elderly people. She added: “On one hand, we might save a few hundred million pounds from the proposals, but on the other, expenses for GPs, A&E and hospitals will go up, so it is a completely false economy.

“It is absolutely amazing that the Government is pushing ahead with these cuts despite admitting they have no idea how many pharmacies could close as a result.”