The government has been urged to spend more money, not less, on community pharmacy infrastructure and recruitment by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).
Responding to the government's consultation on its community pharmacy strategy, the organisation has expressed its concerns that a planned reduction in contractual funding will have a negative impact on patients and the public.
Cutting funding to the pharmacy sector could potentially reduce the number of people in the workforce who are able to focus solely on the safe supply of medicines, with the knock-on effect of increasing pressure on GPs, accident and emergency departments and other urgent care services.
As such, the RPS has called on the government to acknowledge the key role pharmacists can play in improving the efficiency of the NHS, while underlining the need for a proposed integration fund should to be used to drive innovation.
For example, money could be spent on testing out new and different models of care, such as having community pharmacists working directly with GP practices or providing enhanced services in care homes.
The organisation has pledged to work closely with the Department of Health and NHS England in order to ensure these aims are brought to fruition.
Sandra Gidley, RPS England board chair, said: "We are in no doubt that hastily-implemented funding cuts to community pharmacy will mean greater costs for the NHS in the long term.
"There is a strategic imperative for the NHS to improve capacity and capability to support older people and those with long-term conditions. This coupled with an emphasis on prevention of ill health means we need to invest in community pharmacy, expand roles and enable better care."