KINGSCLERE’S pharmacy has had a reprieve after the Government backed down over proposals to slash subsidies to rural pharmacies countrywide.
Earlier this year, on learning it was one of 3,000 pharmacies under threat of the cuts, Kingsclere villagers and councillors started a petition against the closure of Butts Pharmacy in Swan Street, a feature of village life for approaching three decades.
Chemist Rahil Butt had previously confirmed that a 1,800-signature petition in support of the pharmacy had been sent to the MP for North West Hampshire, Kit Malthouse, who presented it to then Minister of State for Community and Social Care at the Department of Health, Alistair Burt.
Now, at a Kingsclere Parish Council meeting last Monday, parish council chairman John Sawyer said he had heard that the pharmacy had a stay of execution.
Mr Sawyer said that earlier last month a government statement had revealed that a planned withdrawal of subsidies to rural pharmacies would not be going ahead.
This was in view of some two million signatures nationwide on similar petitions opposing the proposals.
Mr Sawyer said: “There’s a good chance of democracy having its sway.”
However, he added that the issue was more likely to have been shelved than dismissed, and warned the Government had not said the matter was going away.
He suggested that all concerned should keep a close eye on the situation.
A qualified village chemist of 26 years, Mr Butt provides over-the-counter advice about medicines and has said the service helped relieve pressure on busy GP surgeries.
The parish council wrote to the Department of Health with grave concerns about the possible closure, pointing out the nearest alternative pharmacy was seven miles away and infrequent bus services would make it hard for elderly people to collect prescriptions.