Members of the public should make their voices heard over “damaging” cuts to the NHS Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) service in Norfolk and Waveney, UNISON says today.
Residents are being urged to take part in a public engagement launched this week over plans to withdraw the service.
POD provides a dedicated telephone service for patients to order repeat prescriptions with a health professional. UNISON warns that many elderly and vulnerable patients who rely on the service will be unable to access the app mooted to replace it.
Around 50 staff could lose their jobs if the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board-run service is shut down.
The board is seeking to make cuts after government ministers told all ICBs that their budgets will be 30% lower in 2025/26 than today, even as the boards face mounting costs because of inflation.
But staff say POD actually saves the NHS money and UNISON says extending the service would be better than shutting it down.
UNISON Norfolk Community Health branch secretary Lesley Luscher said: “POD provides an incredibly useful service to some of the most vulnerable people in the county.
“Many struggle getting out of the house or onto a computer but know they can quickly and simply access the medicines they need by speaking to a healthcare professional at the end of the telephone line.
“And it saves the NHS cash — the ICB should be looking at extending this service, not pulling down the shutters.
“We hope the public, whether they use the service or not, make their voices heard and urge the ICB to ditch these damaging proposals.
“But the board wouldn’t even be considering this if the government wasn’t planning to gut their budgets. Ministers must properly fund the whole NHS not try to make cuts where they don’t think they’ll be noticed.”