Reaffirming Labour’s pharmacy position at Conference

Community Pharmacy England held a pharmacy event and spread the word more widely about the sector’s challenges and potential at this year’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool.

This followed on from the Conservative Party conference which you can read about here and built on our ongoing work to ensure the Shadow Health Team are well briefed and supportive of community pharmacy in the run-up to the next General Election.

Our work at both conferences followed the recent Parliamentary debate which we had helped Peter Aldous and other MPs with, and as well as hosting events to keep pharmacy on both parties’ agendas we engaged with think tanks, other healthcare professional groups and health journalists.

Community Pharmacy Fringe Event

We partnered with The Fabian Society to hold a roundtable discussion: ‘The Heart of Primary Care: how can community pharmacies make Labour’s NHS fit for the future?’.

Attendees included Labour MPs, Councillors, patients groups, think tanks and frontline pharmacists, and the pressures that pharmacy are under and the urgent need to resolve them were high on the agenda, as well as the potential for the sector if these pressures can be overcome.

The event was chaired by Rachel Sylvester, Chair of The Times Health Commission and we have since been in touch to feed in further to this commission which is seen as influential by Ministers.

 A full summary of the event the event can be found here.

Think tank engagement

As part of our influencing strategy, we have been engaging with think tanks across the political spectrum to ensure that community pharmacy is firmly at the forefront of health policy development. Political parties look to some of these organisations for policy ideas and direction.

At the Labour Conference, as we as working with the Fabians, we met with senior advisors at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change as well as Policy Exchange, and a senior IPPR representative took part in our roundtable event.

Other Fringe Events

We attended a great number of health fringe events and receptions including sessions run by the BMA, Institute for Government and Nesta among others.

These events were attended by a wide range of participants, including Wes Streeting, Preet Kaur Gill (who is the Shadow Pharmacy Minister) and the wider Labour health Parliamentary and policy team. We also took part in an NHS Providers roundtable with senior Shadow Cabinet representatives and NHS policy makers.

Pharmacy was often referenced in the discussions as a way to relieve pressure on parts of the wider health service, and we asked questions and made contributions on this.

It was encouraging to hear members of the Shadow Health Team reaffirming their commitment to developing the role of community pharmacies – this built on the recent Parliamentary debate in which the Shadow Minister said that it was ‘time we realised their potential’.

Community Pharmacy England Chief Executive, Janet Morrison, said:

“We were pleased to hear Shadow Ministers once again making positive noises about community pharmacy at this year’s Labour Party Conference. Their calls for a greater role for community pharmacy align with the discussions we have had with them in recent months. Earlier this year, we made a submission to the National Policy Forum, and were pleased to see many of our policy asks reflected in the Labour Party’s ‘5 missions for a better future‘.

“The whole Labour Health Team seems to have a clear focus on prevention and acknowledges the critical need to shift the focus from secondary to primary care. This is in line with the recently published vision for community pharmacy which recommends placing the sector front and centre in public health strategies, with a package of extended services to make the most of pharmacies as local health and wellbeing hubs.

“Whilst what we heard from Labour this week was encouraging, our work to build further support for pharmacy will continue with all  main political parties in the coming weeks as we continue with our wide-ranging influencing programme ahead of the next CPCF negotiations and General Election.”

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