Pharmacies in south west Hertfordshire are set to be hit by funding cuts worth more than 10 per cent over the next two years.

The Department of Health is to impose funding cuts of £113m, which will be followed by further cuts that will reduce funding for pharmacies by more than seven per cent in 2017/18.

Earlier this year, the Government said this may mean that some pharmacies may close, but recently it has not been able to confirm how many or which pharmacies could be affected.

READ MORE: Watford pharmacists fear for future over proposed funding cuts

Girish Mehta of Cassiobury, Leavesden and Chemilab Pharmacies in Watford said: "This news is extremely disappointing and I'm really worried about the impact it is going to have on my patients in the local communities we serve and the wider community in Watford and Three Rivers.

"We work very hard to ensure that all our patients are leading the healthiest lives that they can and have the medicines they need, when they need them and that they understand how to use them.

"With these funding cuts we are going to struggle to manage and to continue to provide all of the services that we want to."

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which is the national negotiator for community pharmacy, says the reckless funding cuts are likely to see patients suffer as pharmacies are forced to find ways to reduce their costs to cope with the cuts.

They say pharmacy owners may have to consider measures such as reducing staffing or opening hours or even stopping certain services that have previously been available for free.

Local pharmacy owners and their representatives are very concerned about these cuts.

Hertfordshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee representative Hitesh Dodhia, said: "We are very concerned about these funding cuts and we don't understand how they are compatible with the stated aims of the NHS and Government to provide higher quality and more accessible care for patients.

"Although we are unlikely to see pharmacies closing immediately, the cuts are likely to lead to pharmacies in the Watford and Three Rivers area having to reduce staffing, cut opening hours and reduce some of the services offered, such as home delivery of medicines and the supply of medicines in compliance aids.

"All of which will affect patients and also of course add to the pressure already being placed on local GP practices and hospitals."

Last week the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which represents the interests of NHS community pharmacies in England, rejected a proposed funding package for 2016/17.

It said it was facing cuts of 12 per cent in the current financial year, with more to follow in the year after. It is believed the cuts amount to £113 million in the final three months of this financial year, with further cuts of £200 million (7 per cent) in 2017-18.

Community pharmacies - or chemists - get around 90 per cent of their income from the money the Government pays for dispensing prescriptions.

Watford MP Richard Harrington said: “Our local pharmacies are really important, they are a first point of contact with health professionals and a friendly face when we are unwell.

"I’d like to see their role as a first point of contact encouraged even further and make the most out of these great local resources.

"A £42 million pharmacy integration fund has been announced to modernise pharmacies and make the most of pharmacists’ skills as a trained clinical professional.”