CONCERNS over budget cuts to pharmacy services have been raised by a Christchurch company.

Patients and staff at Wessex Pharmacies were visited by Christchurch MP Chris Chope earlier this month.

The company, which has branches in Christchurch and Mudeford, has been owned by the same family for 77 years and served generations of people.

Pharmacy services could be under threat as a result of a reduction in the national NHS budget for community pharmacy this year – with further cuts anticipated beyond that.

Managing director, Roger Mitchell, said: “As everyone knows, the health service is under considerable strain and although the government has recognised the important role of pharmacies in alleviating queues at GP surgeries and packed A&E departments, it has decided to shrink our budget.

He added: “As GP waiting times can be quite lengthy, we are often the first port of call for many patients.

“If these cuts are to take affect, pharmacies will certainly be in danger of closure and the subsequent burden upon the NHS would surely be far greater.

“We provide vital healthcare and advice to people in Christchurch and Mudeford, making sure that patients get their medicines and know how to take them.

“I explained to Mr Chope that we have provided a highly professional, caring and life-saving service to our wonderful patients over many decades.

“Our driver, Tony, makes approximately 35 deliveries a day to patients’ homes.

“We know that for some people, Tony is the only face to face contact they have with anyone from one week to another.

“We also dispense prescriptions into monitored dosage trays so our patients can take their medicines without confusion.

“This is a free service which takes us much longer, but we do it to allow our patients to maintain their independence for as long as possible.”

A petition has been set-up urging the issue to be debated in Parliament.

Mr Mitchell said: “We know the NHS is under pressure, closing pharmacies is not the answer.”