Community Pharmacy England briefs new Pharmacy Minister

Community Pharmacy England Chief Executive Janet Morrison met with the new Pharmacy Minister, Dame Andrea Leadsom MP, this week.

Dame Andrea is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State responsible for Primary Care at the Department of Health.

Janet talked to the Minister about a range of critical topics including:

  • Pharmacy First: including the sector’s enthusiasm for this service as indicated in our recent webinars, the operational challenges and communications. Dame Andrea was positive about Pharmacy First and it’s potential.
  • Funding and Pressures: highlighting the immense financial pressures on community pharmacies and the need for an improved core contract. Janet talked about the effect of 35-50% real term cuts and rising costs being seen in closures, consolidations and cashflow, with weakened capacity for the network to respond to displaced patients and risks in terms of the safety of medicine supply and loss of service for communities in the most deprived areas.
  • The Future: highlighting the vision produced by Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund and the potential to build on the success of Pharmacy First in the future to develop more clinical interventions that help patients and relieve pressures on the NHS. These could include extending services into hypertension management and women’s health. But also warning that without further investment in the core contract many pharmacies would struggle to stay open.
  • IT/Digital Interfaces: discussing how we could work in the future to streamline communication and referral routes into General Practice.

Following the recent conclusion of the Pharmacy First negotiations we hope to start negotiations with Government and the NHS on the 2024/25 contractual framework in the near future.

In the meantime, we are supporting all pharmacies to prepare for Pharmacy First, alongside continuing to press for urgent help with the ongoing pressures on the sector.

In addition to this, at our recent winter pressures event, we asked attending MPs to add their name to a letter to Dame Andrea calling for:

  1. A commitment to working with the sector to create a fair and fit for purpose core funding model that ensures sustainability and properly rewards pharmacies for what they do.
  2. Effectively implement and develop the Pharmacy First service to allow patients to have walk-in consultations for minor conditions, providing accessible care and easing pressure on general practice.
  3. Build on other clinical service areas such as vaccinations, women’s health, and long-term conditions management. Pharmacy can do much more to contribute to key NHS priority areas and to help to deliver greater access for patients to health support.

We hope to build further support in the coming days and intend to publish the letter on our website shortly.

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