Up to a quarter of pharmacies in Northamptonshire may have to close because of millions of pounds of Government cuts, it has been claimed.
The concern has been raised by the organisation that represents all 170 pharmacists in the county.
It says the six percent cuts announced in an open letter will leave many with no choice but to cut some services and leave others financially nonviable.
Anne-Marie King, chief officer Chief Officer Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: “I think the word for this is ‘incongruous.’.
“On the one hand, the letter says ministers want us to improve all sorts of services. On the other, they’re saying you must do it on six percent less money.
“We think 3,000 pharmacies across the country will close, and there will be a similar impact in Northamptonshire.”
The effect on the public, Mrs King says, will be large.
By closing rural pharmacies, it will deprive many people of their main means of getting low-level medical advice, she said.
She said: “We are supposed to be alleviating the pressure on the doctor’s surgeries and hospitals.
“We are places that you can just walk in and ask ‘what’s wrong with me?’ and get an answer or advice straight away. That’s our unique selling point.
“Take that out of the system and you can imagine what will happen in those places. This is counterproductive.”
The Government letter said: “The 2016/17 funding remains significant in a period when the NHS and public services have to become more efficient.
“The Government believes those efficiencies can be made within community pharmacy without comprising the quality of services or public access to them. In some parts of the country, there are more pharmacies than are necessary to maintain good access.”
Forty percent of pharmacies, the letter says, are in a cluster where there are three or more pharmacies within ten minutes’ walk.
It continues: “We want to work with pharmacy bodies and patient groups on how we can best maintain patient and public access while pursuing these efficiencies.”