MPs and Peers keep spotlight on pharmacy

MPs and Peers have this week continued to discuss community pharmacy matters in Westminster, with pharmacy to be the subject of a new inquiry by cross-party MPs.

Community Pharmacy England has also remained in contact with many MPs and Peers including briefing them on the ongoing challenges facing pharmacies and last month co-hosting a roundtable for Peers on the Primary Care Access Plan.

Inquiries

On Thursday this week, the Select Committee on Health and Social Care launched a new inquiry looking at the future of community pharmacy. Steve Brine MP, Chair of the Committee, said “Pharmacy has a central role to play in the future of the NHS. With a greater focus on personalised and patient-centred healthcare, we will be asking what more must be done to make sure that the profession is in the best shape to meet demand.”

Community Pharmacy England will be responding to the inquiry, drawing from the vision work that we have commissioned Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund to do and which we will be consulting the sector on again soon.

Also this week, in a session of the House of Lords Integration of Primary and Community Care Committee, a senior official at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) gave evidence on community pharmacy and the Government’s upcoming NHS workforce plan.

Ed Scully, Director of Primary and Community Care, talked through the details of the Primary Care Access Plan published last month, confirming that the £645m investment in community pharmacy is ‘new money’ for primary care.

This was in response to Broness Tyler asking how it could be ensured that pharmacies had sufficient staff and resources to take on the extra responsibilities that were envisaged.

Mr Scully also told Peers that the Government is planning to change the law to allow pharmacy technicians to do more, including to supply prescription only medicines via the common conditions service, and that the workforce plan would include requirements for expanding education and training for pharmacists.

Community Pharmacy England in Parliament

Community Pharmacy England has been in contact with a large number of MPs and Peers since our rebrand to offer them information and local briefings on community pharmacy.

Meetings with MPs are ongoing, and last month we were part of a briefing session for Peers to hear from us and from The King’s Fund about what the Primary Care Access Plan means for community pharmacy.

Peers from all parties attended the event and heard from Janet Morrison, Community Pharmacy England CEO, about the challenges pharmacies are facing and what the Access Plan might mean for the future. They had concerns about capacity and funding in the sector, as well as possible patient concerns, all of which Janet spoke on.

We are currently planning a further Parliamentary drop-in event to take place ahead of Parliament rising for the summer recess.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England, said:

“It is encouraging to see that both MPs and Peers are continuing to take an active interest in community pharmacy and we very much welcome both their input, and the inquiry by the Health Committee. We are confident that the inquiry will pick up the immense challenges that all community pharmacies are facing and we will be making a strong response to it on behalf of all our members. These inquiries can be extremely influential in making recommendations to Government.

Community Pharmacy England is already becoming a familiar name around Parliament as we continue with our programme of work to build understanding and support for community pharmacy across both Houses, following on from our most recent roundtable for Peers. It is vital that all political parties understand the ongoing pressures that all pharmacy owners are battling, and that we as a sector keep showing them what we could do, if we are properly funded and supported.

MPs and Peers are some of our most important advocates when it comes to influencing Government and NHS policy and this remains a critical part of our work alongside the ongoing negotiations on the Primary Care Access Plan. Our Negotiating Team is working at pace through the complex negotiations, with clear objectives to ensure that pharmacies can benefit as much as possible from the £645m of new money pledged to the sector. We hope to be able to report back over the summer.”

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