Conservative MPs briefed on prevention role for sector

Community Pharmacy England last week briefed Conservative MPs on the unlocked potential of community pharmacies to help with prevention and tackling the burden of long-term conditions, if the current pressures on the sector can be eased.

The event brought together a small group of influential and supportive MPs with community pharmacy owners, our Chief Executive and Director of NHS Services, and patient representative group Healthwatch.

MPs once again heard about the current pressures and funding crisis in community pharmacy, with discussion on how this could be eased and the huge benefits of doing so. Healthwatch also outlined some of their findings on how the public view pharmacy, including that they would value pharmacies offering more services such as vaccinations.

The discussion, chaired by Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, considered the important role community pharmacies could, and should, play as part of the prevention agenda. Community Pharmacy England Committee Members Beran Patel (an independent pharmacy owner), and Jay Patel (Executive Director of Day Lewis) were also in attendance to give their firsthand experiences and perspectives.

MPs in attendance included former Minister for Pharmacy, Will Quince MP,  along with Derek Thomas MP, Sir Peter Bottomley and Peter Aldous MP.

At the event we answered questions from MPs on pharmacy finances including core funding, the impact of Pharmacy First and recruitment and retention.

We also discussed the Vision for Community Pharmacy, which makes clear the Government’s view that prevention is a crucial element to reforming healthcare looking at primary, secondary prevention and early diagnosis.

MPs strongly agreed with us that the Government needs to review pharmacy funding structures, and they were aware of the challenges that frontline pharmacists, as well as pharmacy businesses, are facing. They agreed that the sector must not be unfairly financially penalised – through fee reductions – for doing too much work.

There was consensus from those at the roundtable that MPs should make more visits to pharmacies to experience the typical working days for pharmacists, their teams and patients.

Community Pharmacy England will continue to build support for community pharmacy across all political parties, building on our work last year to influence the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat manifestos. We also last week attended an event with the Shadow Pharmacy Minister Preet Kaur Gill MP, highlighting the need for further investment in the sector.

Janet Morrison, CEO at Community Pharmacy England said:

“It is critical that we continue to work with MPs to press for solutions to the ongoing intolerable pressures on community pharmacies, but also to show all political parties the very great benefits that pharmacies could offer any new Government if those pressures are addressed. This event was another useful way to do that, and it was encouraging to meet with a group of MPs who seemed to so clearly support community pharmacies.

We’re grateful to Steve Double MP and his parliamentary colleagues for sharing their views and discussing with us what needs to happen to tackle the challenges the sector faces and will be continuing our dialogue with them.”

Community Pharmacy England’s next parliamentary event is on 12 March, where we will be hosting a ‘Model Pharmacy Drop-In’ working with the other national pharmacy organisations. Pharmacists will be on hand to showcase how they are further helping patients as part of the Pharmacy First service.