“STAGGERINGLY short-sighted” – those are the words used to describe the decision to close the pharmacy at the University of Warwick.
The decision, made by the Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire NHS Area Team, would see funding to the family-run pharmacy cut – forcing the vital service to close its doors at the end of June.
Now students, staff and the local community are in uproar, arguing the decision doesn’t understand the needs of the university or surrounding areas – particularly those of hundreds of disabled students.
The Area Team says there is not ‘adequate need for the pharmacy to continue to provide services’ and NHS England would not provide the financial assistance required for it to remain open.
The M W Phillips Pharmacy, based within the central Student’s Union building, is the first port of call for the 6,000 students living on campus and 5,100 staff members working at the University’s Coventry campus.
Furthermore, the pharmacy caters to the specific needs of more than 500 disabled students who are guaranteed on-campus accomodation in halls each year.
The Area Team argued those affected could simply use one of the other pharmacies in the nearby area, including the one situated ‘less than one mile away’ at Cannon Park Shopping Centre.
However, this justification has been slammed by Disabled Student’s Officer, Jenny Wheeler, who pointed out that access to that pharmacy forces students to cross the same perilous road which claimed the life of international student Maggie Cheung in January last year.
Jenny added: “As a disabled student with a long term medical condition I rely on the pharmacy on campus to access vital medication and supplies.
“To expect students to have to travel further, including over a dangerous crossing point, is a clear disregard for their safety.”
The NHS decision also fails to take into account the further 20,000 Warwick students living in surrounding areas who rely on the pharmacy.
Protesters have also raised concerns that other local pharmacies will buckle under the pressure of thousands more patients.
Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Policy at the university, described the move as a ‘completely foolish decision’ that didn’t understand the needs of the University or surrounding residents.
He added: “We’re staggered they don’t think that’s a sufficient number of people which this one pharmacy caters for.
“The move damages the ability of staff and students to access medicines and will cause considerable inconvenience to the local community.”
An online petition on change.org against the plans has already received over 1,280 signatures and continues to garner support – including from local councillors.
Rob Ankcorn, the Sabbatical Officer leading the campaign said: “Although we all respect the difficult job those leading the NHS have at this current time, there has clearly been a mistake here.
“We’re determined to carry on fighting to save our local pharmacy.”