MP Pharmacy visits

Urgent and emergency care

The RPS is always keen to arrange pharmacy visits for MPs to engage them directly with the work pharmacists do day-to-day.  Alongside our own visits, the Public Affairs team provides both resources and guidance to members for arranging their own visits so that we can maximise the number of MPs reached.

As well as engaging with the ministers of the day, we seek to build understanding and positive relationships with tomorrow's decision-makers and influencers; the more politicians can see the potential of pharmacy and the skills of pharmacists, the more suport we can gain to help bring about the changes important to our members.

You can read about our most recent visits below.

If you would like to arrange a visit from your local MP, we will help and support you from start to finish - contact charles.willis@rpharms.com.

19/04/2016 - Stewart Stevenson, MSP Candidate

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We recently visited Cullen Pharmacy with MSP candidate, Stewart Stevenson. The pharmacy team, led by Colin Clark, did a sterling job  to showcase both the caring and the clinical aspects of community pharmacy during our visit.

The small town of Cullen has a stunning location on the north coast of Aberdeenshire with remote and rural challenges for providing person centred care. The extensive range of services available within the pharmacy plays an important role in the local community, negating the need for a long journey to the GP or local hospital in many cases. This has been highlighted recently while the local GP practice is being refurbished and has provided opportunities for further collaboration between all the local health professionals, using the pharmacy as a hub.

In addition to the core contract services Cullen participates in the NHS Grampian UTI service, providing screening and treatment for urinary tract infections without the need for a GP or out of hours appointment.  The community spirit within the  pharmacy team was more than evident during our visit.

Aileen Bryson MRPharmS, Policy and Practice Lead for the RPS in Scotland said "The pharmacy is a superb example of what community pharmacy can contribute to patient care".

11/03/2016 - Alan Mak

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Alan Mak, MP for Havant, visited the Pharmacy Department of the Queen Alexandra Hospital on Friday, to see how the hospital deals with 1,500 prescriptions per week in addition to the advanced work being delivered across every team and department.

Mr Mak has previously visited community pharmacies and saw the difference in a hospital, where pharmacists contribute to ward rounds, giving advice on what form of medicine would best suit individual patients. He also saw how the hospital pharmacy team, under Amanda Cooper, are using electronic patient records to improve the process of ensuring the right type of medicine is dispensed to patients. Mr Mak also saw the work of pharmacists in childrens’ wards, where clinical judgement, skills and experience enhance standards of care.

15/02/2016 - Sarah Newton

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After a briefing in Westminster, Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, accepted an offer from the RPS of a constituency pharmacy visit to explore some of the issues we are campaigning on.  We are very thankful to Hendra's at Penryn Pharmacy for agreeing to host the visit.

The visit provided a fantastic opportunity to show Ms Newton the NHS England pharmacists in GP surgeries pilot, as the pharmacy was attached to a pilot site.  The superintendent pharmacist was also employed at the surgery, and this facilitated better pharmaceutical care for all patients in the area.

In particular, Sarah was very supportive of the upcoming RPS campaign on care homes, and "very interested" in pharmacy's role in providing high quality care to the elderly.

05/02/2016 - Peter Dowd

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Peter Dowd is the MP for Bootle and one of the 2015 intake of Labour MPs. Previously he has worked in social care for over 25 years and has been very active in health issues in Parliament, such as chairing events for the All Party Health Group.

Accepting the RPS invitation of a pharmacy visit in his constituency, Mr Dowd was shown the fantastic services delivered to the community by Whitworth's Chemist on Moore Street.  The RPS was represented by Ron Gould, a local city Alderman and pharmacist who has worked delivering mental health services in the city.

Mr Dowd ethusiastically supported the services the pharmacy provided, and was determined to ensure that high quality patient care wouldn't be affected by the community pharmacy reforms.  He went on to say "I can't do prescriptions, but I can fight for pharmacy".

22/09/2015 - Charlote Leslie

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Over the summer, the RPS launched the I Love My Pharmacist competition to celebrate the pharmacists who are making a real difference to patient's lives.  As part of the competition, the Public Affairs team offered to all the regional finalists assistance and advice in inviting their local MP for a visit.

Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West has been to visit two of our I Love My Pharmacist regional finalists. Jane Smith and Emily Rose are both pharmacists based at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

Charlotte Leslie endorsed pharmacy and the competition on her visit: “Pharmacists are the unsung heroes of our National Health Service.

“While it is easy to focus on the outstanding work done by doctors and nurses, it is clear to me that lives are improved immeasurably – and sometimes saved – by the care and hard work done by pharmacists.

“Both Jane and Emily are outstanding practitioners in their individual fields, ensuring that patients are given the best possible chance to improve their health quickly and safely.

“I was privileged to spend time with both of them, learning that their work is really making a difference to patients,

“It is an ongoing task to educate us all that it is often pharmacists who can provide the answers, not to mention appropriate advice. Southmead Hospital is lucky to have both Jane and Emily and I wish them both well in the competition.”

19/09/2015 - Jeremy Lefroy

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Over the summer, the RPS launched the I Love My Pharmacist competition to celebrate the pharmacists who are making a real difference to patient's lives.  As part of the competition, the Public Affairs team offered to all the regional finalists assistance and advice in inviting their local MP for a visit.

Jeremy Lefroy (centre-left), MP for Stafford, visited regional finalist Helen Watton (centre-right) at Holmcroft Pharmacy to hear about the great work that had gotten her this far in the competition.

Helen has done outstanding work with her local stroke association club (Geoff Brookes, chair of the club is pictured second from the right), where she has taken the time to explain the physiology behind a stroke and the importance of patient's medication.  She has continued to support the club, and provided to fact sheet to further help patients understand the condition.

The visit provided a great opportunity for Jeremy to meet both the local club and to hear about the work that Helen has done in collaboration with them.  Helen commented "We had a lovely morning explaining the services we offer at the pharmacy, and how we are working to find new ways to help the local population stay healthier for longer."

18/09/2015 - George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer 

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Over the summer, the RPS launched the I Love My Pharmacist competition to celebrate the pharmacists who are making a real difference to patient's lives.  As part of the competition, the Public Affairs team offered to all the regional finalists assistance and advice in inviting their local MP for a visit.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, visited pharmacist Mahraz Nickkho-Amiry (centre) to wish him luck as a regional finalist in the RPS I Love my Pharmacist competition. Mahraz is the Manager at Well Pharmacy in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in the consitituency of Mr Osborne.

Mahraz said: "I am delighted that Mr Osborne attended Well Pharmacy today to visit and congratulate me on being a regional finalist in the 'I Love My Pharmacist' competition.

“It was an honour to meet him and talk him through the role of pharmacists as an integral part of every local health service, and it is really important to illustrate this to the public. We are more than just dispensers. We support patients in different settings, advise on health issues and build good relationships with other health professionals, including GPs, nurses and hospital staff, which is important. I appreciate all the support I have received so far from being in this competition”.

George said: “Mahraz has gone above and beyond to help local people and really deserves this nomination. Pharmacists provide a crucial service in our community and it is absolutely right to recognise this through the I Love My Pharmacist awards."

25/08/2015 - Jo Churchill MP

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Jo Churchill, the new Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, visited Station Pharmacy in Elmswell, a Suffolk village without a GP surgery.

Ms Churchill, a double cancer survivor, is heavily engaged in health issues at Westminster, ranging from weight management to the quality of hospital food to the availability of drugs for ultra-rare diseases, and has a long-standing involvement with the breast cancer charity Breakthrough.

The MP, who is entitled to an NHS-funded annual flu vaccination, was very interested in a flu advertising display which RPS member Paul Heeks (above, with Jo Churchill MP) had recently set up. She was very enthusiastic about the news that pharmacies throughout England can now administer NHS-funded flu vaccines, and was disappointed to learn that she would have to wait until September to get hers!

24/08/2015 - Huw Merriman MP

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Huw Merriman, the Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, visited Trackside, a busy 100-hour pharmacy in Bexhill-On-Sea.

The constituency visit, which followed an invitation from RPS after the new MP's election in May 2015, was organised and led by East Sussex LPC.

After representatives of both organisations gave an overview of the profession and its current successes and challenges, RPS member Ceri McEwan showed Mr Merriman around the pharmacy and explained the benefits she anticipated from having access to Summary Care Records, adding how much better it would be to be able to annotate patient records.

The MP was particularly interested in hearing how community pharmacies could be better used to save the NHS money while improving patient convenience and waiting times for GP appointments, and asked to receive further information about the potential of minor ailments services from pharmacies, which RPS and East Sussex LPC have since provided.

14/08/2015 - Peter Kyle MP

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Peter Kyle, the new Labour MP for Hove and Portslade, visited Parris and Greening pharmacy in Hove to learn about pharmacy’s role in a major local primary care project.

Brighton and Hove is one of 20 areas participating in the ‘EPiC’ (Extended Primary Integrated Care) scheme, in which community pharmacies as well as pharmacists working within GP surgeries are treating common ailments and reviewing use of medicines, and pharmacists in both settings also have access to patients' Summary Care Records. Patients are able to access treatment up to 8pm on weekdays as well as at weekends

After discussing EPiC with RPS members Ramiz Banham, Vanessa Taylor and Sue Oliver - who is participating both as a community pharmacist and by working in a local GP surgery - he said: "As ever, Brighton and Hove is showing the rest of the nation how to do things. I’m delighted that this local project has at its heart treating people in the community and at times convenient to them. Pharmacists and pharmacies are an under-used resource and have a major role to play."

He also learned about the national rollout of Summary Care Record access and the new NHS flu vaccination service.

05/08/2015 - Paula Sherriff MP, Treasurer of the All Party Pharmacy Group and member of the Health Select Committee

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Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury (centre left), has just joined Parliament but has already become a member of the Health Select Committee and recruited as Treasure for the All Party Pharmacy Group.  After engaging with Ms Sherriff as a candidate before the election, the RPS took her to visit Dewsbury Moor Pharmacy.  Nigel Hughes from Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire was invited to attend and bring along his knowledge of local pharmacy services in the area.

Paula worked in community healthcare for 15 years before coming an MP and so she was keen to see the range of services that the pharmacy can provide. As well as the traditional dispensing and medicines role, Dewsbury Moor provides assistance to local care homes, provides smoking cessation advice, travel vaccinations, and stoma care. However, Dewsbury CCG does not commission a pharmacy led Minor Ailments Service unlike the areas surrounding it.

“I was intrigued as to why the CCG has decided to not run a Minor Ailments Service in Dewsbury” said Paula, “I look into what it could do for the area and ask the CCG about their choice”

The visit was also an opportunity to discuss with Paula two big recent announcements in pharmacy; the SCR rollout and the national flu vaccination scheme.  West Yorkshire already had a local flu vaccination scheme commissioned the previous year, and Ms Sherriff was delighted to hear of the recent developments.

04/08/2015 - Ben Howlett MP

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A member of the Conservative backbench health committee, Ben Howlett (centre) became MP for Bath in May this year, and previously worked in the city's Royal University Hospital and, Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases ('The Min') as well as in healthcare recruitment.

RPS took him to visit Lifestyle Pharmacy in the historic centre, which dispenses medicines and advice to patients from over 15 local GP surgeries. After pharmacist Nick Daines (third from right) and his team described their services, Mr Howlett was enthusiastic about the NHS flu vaccination service starting later this year, welcomed pharmacy's anticipated read access to summary care records and supported the principle of full write access.

He said it was clear that pharmacy is not being used as fully as it could be by the NHS at present, and pledged to join the All-Party Pharmacy Group at Westminster.

He also received a travel vaccination consultation before his summer holiday, and was particularly interested in the smoking cessation service, as the quit rate in Bath has declined and he is involved in some work to address this.

31/07/2015 - Grahame Morris MP

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Grahame Morris (Labour, Easington) visited his local pharmacy, Whitworths Chemist in Murton, to see the range of services now offered following its grand reopening the previous week.  Grahame met Mike and his team to discuss their plans for closer working with other local healthcare professionals, and tried out one of their new health checks himself.

During the visit organised by the RPS, Grahame commented on how these new services along with the pharmacist’s expert advice would be crucial in reducing pressures on the NHS this winter.

“It was marvellous to see the enthusiasm the team has, and hearing their plans to helping the local people of this area live healthier, longer lives.”

“I’ve spoken to Mike many times about the potential pharmacy has, and I was delighted when I saw the national flu scheme, as well as the roll out of summary care records to pharmacies.  These records will help prevent medicine errors, and make sure people get the most from their treatment.”

“I was disappointed that there was not a National Minor Ailments service agreed between NHS England and the pharmacy negotiator, but pharmacy’s potential and future is plain to see.” 

31/07/2015 - Alex Chalk MP

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The RPS also assists members with arranging visits with their local organisations.  Evelyne Beech, Gloucestershire LPC, arranged with her local MP Alex Chalk (Conservatives, Cheltenham, centre) to visit James Pharmacy of St Georges Road, and the Public Affairs team worked with her to provide resources and advice for the day.

With the national flu scheme recently announced, the pharmacy team was keen to discuss how it would help people in Cheltenham this winter.  Mr Chalk commented on the new scheme:

“I’m delighted to see that NHS flu jabs have been extended to local pharmacies so people in Cheltenham have more opportunity than ever to get themselves protected”

It was also a chance to tell Mr Chalk about how the recent SCR rollout will benefit patients in his area, and talk about future opportunities for pharmacy in the area.

Chris Gifkins (left), Chair of the Gloucestershire Local Pharmaceutical Committee, who accompanied Alex Chalk on his pharmacy visit, said:

“It was a great opportunity to inform Alex Chalk about the importance of commissioning services from community pharmacy, which deliver better care and value for the NHS. 

10/07/2015 - Caroline Nokes MP 

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Caroline Nokes (Conservative, Romsey, left) visited Pharmacy Direct in Totton, owned by her constituent Arun Sharma MRPharmS (second left). Ms Nokes, who became an MP in 2010, lives in a village with a pharmacy supported by the Essential Small Pharmacies Scheme, an NHS England programme to ensure the continued viability of isolated pharmacies with low dispensing volumes, and last year initiated a debate in Parliament on the future of the scheme.

This was her first formal pharmacy visit in her capacity as an MP, and she was impressed with the range and sheer volume of pharmacists’ work. Here you can see pharmacist Jayesh Asher MRPharmS (right) showing her EPS and discussing how the forthcoming rollout of access to Summary Care Records will improve patient care and efficiency and enable pharmacies to integrate more fully into the local primary care system.

03/07/2015 - Kate Osamor MP

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For the first of our July visits, RPS took new MP Kate Osamor (Labour, Edmonton, centre) to visit Reid's Pharmacy in Edmonton.  Before being elected, Ms Osamor spent 15 years working in the NHS as a GP practise manager so was very interested in the new ways community pharmacies and GPs are working together.

Ms Osamor said she was pleased that pharmacists will soon be able to check patients’ records for adverse reactions to medicines prior to dispensing, as this will improve the service for patients and save time and money for the NHS.

“It’s fantastic to see such a friendly and modern pharmacy providing these essential health services to my constituents,” she said.

“Having managed a doctor’s surgery for 15 years, I know the pressures on GPs, so pharmacies treating minor conditions on a walk-in basis is not just convenient for patients but also frees up local doctors to deal with more serious conditions. Sharing information electronically, with patients’ consent, will also save the NHS time and money to help improve care for everyone”.

Reid’s pharmacy is well known for the quality of care it gives, winning the Alphega pharmacy group’s “Outstanding achievement in Community Pharmacy” award and being a finalist in its “Pharmacy of the Year” competition.

12/06/2015 - Suella Fernandes MP

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For our second visit in our new set of visits, the RPS showed a new Member of Parliament her local village pharmacy.  Suella Fernandes (Conservative, Fareham, centre) has spent her first days in Parliament raising the profile of Diabetes and the need for more effective self management of the condition, so we were delighted to show her a pharmacy embarking on a Diabetes awareness campaign.  RPS member Ms Caroline Hillier (left) of Everetts Pharmacy Titchfield showed Ms Fernandes the resources that the pharmacy team were preparing for the new campaign to encourage healthier lifestyles, as well as explaining the different services available such as BMI and blood pressure checks.  Other services provided by the pharmacy included flu vaccinations, sexual health checks and EHC, smoking cessation, and supervised consumption. 

Ms Fernandes commented "Caroline and her team are providing essential health services to their local community and helping people to live healthier lives.  Initiatives such as these means GP resources can be freed up for more serious cases, and reduce pressure on other NHS services".

05/06/2015 - Rebecca Harris MP

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The start of June marked the start of our new pharmacy visits for first time MPs and well known friends of pharmacy.  Rebecca Harris (Conservative, Castle Point) was a member of the All Party Pharmacy Group in the previous parliament and involved in their work, and we were delighted to show her some of the more advanced services.  RPS member Mr Asif Moledina of Asif's New Pharmacy in Hadleigh hosted the visit, and discussed the range of services to help people self-manage their long term conditions.

Ms Harris commented “I’m pleased these services are available from community pharmacy, Asif and his team are working hard to provide care to Hadleigh residents. Initiatives like this will help residents see their doctors more quickly, as a part of their overwhelming caseload is dealt with by other healthcare professions.”  The RPS looks forward to building on the success of this visit as we promote pharmacy's potential in the new Parliament.

06/05/2015 - Mike Gapes MP

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Mike Gapes (Labour, Ilford South) was standing in his 6th election for Ilford South, an area he has represented since 1992.  RPS member Shaheen Bhatia invited him along to her Free Heart Testing day at her pharmacy, P&S Pharmacy, where she provides free heart-risk, blood pressure, and blood sugar tests.  Shaheen said Mr Gapes was happy to see the pharmacy's ability to take pressure off local GP surgeries, where there is a 2 week wait for such tests, and commended the team's work.  He was especially impressed that on the day 5 people were identified as at critical risk and were referred immediately, hopefully leading to effective preventative measures.  Mr Gapes said he would lend his support for heart risk testing to be available through the NHS at all pharmacies, as these tests are crucial in early intervention to prevent premature fatalities.  The photo shows Mr Gapes and Shaheen with her "oldest and healthiest" patient, Fauja Singh at an impressive 104 years old. 

01/05/2015 - Jane Ellison MP, Minister for Public Health

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Jane Ellison (Conservatives, Battersea) remains in her post as Minister for Health responsible for Public Health even as Parliament prorogues for the election period.  Ms Ellison is part of the drive to improve prevention within the health service and ensure the population stays healthier for longer.  With this in mind, she was interested to find out about the services at Clarke Pharmacy in Wandsworth with a particular focus on diabetes.  She was very supportive of the work community pharmacy does in preventing such conditions, and positive about the future involvement of pharmacy in achieving public health objectives.  She was also supportive of the campaign to get pharmacists and GPs working side by side, especially to improve prevention measures and promoting early referrals.

30/04/2015 - Oliver Colvile MP, Vice-Chair, All Party Pharmacy Group

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Oliver Colvile (Conservatives, Plymouth, Sutton, and Devonport, centre-left) is the Vice-Chair of the All Party Pharmacy Group and has been a vocal supporter of pharmacy since his election in 2010.  You can find out more about the APPG's work on their website by following this link.  Mr Colvile visited a Boots Chemist in the newly opened University Medical Centre at the University of Plymouth.  The pharmacy was part of an innovative collaboration with a GP surgery above the pharmacy along with other services provided at the site, allowing for referrals between different practises to be both fluid and convenient for the patient.  He was very interested in seeing greater GP and pharmacist integration nationwide.

29/04/2015 - Julia Fletcher

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Julia Fletcher (Liberal Democrats, Lewisham East, right) has been involved in her community for many years as a councillor and in the fight to save Lewisham Hospital from closing.  With this community focus and view to increased service provision, Ms Fletcher visited Lords pharmacy in Lee.  She was able to see the many services available through pharmacy and was keen to see greater integration of services within pharmacy with their ideal placement in the community.  

28/04/2015 - Karin Smyth

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Karin Smyth (Labour, Bristol West, centre) has spent 15 years working in the NHS, been a non-executive director of Bristol North PCT, and also the operations manager at Bristol CCG.  She has a wealth of experience and a strong interest in healthcare, and the RPS invited her to visit R C Davis pharmacy in Filwood.  Ms Smyth was interested to see the range of services available, and was particularly interested in the health check services available.  The NHS health check which can be commissioned in pharmacies is based around checking blood pressure, lifestyle questions, and a blood test for cholesterol.  A few days after the visit Ms Smyth tweeted a picture of her getting her blood pressure checked during the visit to publicise its use to the public.

28/04/2015 - Jamie Reed MP, Shadow Minister for Pharmacy

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Jamie Reed (Labour, Copeland) is the Shadow Minister for health that is responsible for pharmacy, and he is eager to understand and unlock the potential of the sector.  Mr Reed visited Seacliffe pharmacy in Whitehaven, where issues such as pharmacist access to the patient health record and integration with other services were discussed.  Charles Willis, Head of Public Affairs, said during the visit Mr Reed "sung the praises" of pharmacy.  Mr Reed saw pharmacists as “an integral part of a close-knit team delivering healthcare across the community” and “could see the value” in pharmacists having read-write access to patient records, says Charles, although "he didn’t make a commitment to that".

27/04/2015 - Sir Kevin Barron MP, chair of the All Party Pharmacy Group

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Kevin Barron (Labour, Rother Valley, centre) has been Chair of the All Party Pharmacy Group since 2011 and has been a dedicated friend of pharmacy for many years.  You can read more about the APPG by following this link to their webpage.  Sir Kevin visited Lloyds pharmacy in Dinnington, and as always was impressed at the range of services provided.  In particular he supports the role pharmacy plays in keeping people healthy and living for longer, and is keen to support pharmacy in its continuing work in this field.

What politicians are saying about pharmacy

Read below what some of the key influencers and policy makers are saying about pharmacy

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Sir Kevin Barron MP, Chair

of the All-Party Pharmacy Group 

“More people visit pharmacies each day than any other part of the health service. Pharmacy teams provide expert advice and support…and they represent the most cost effective service. It is vitally important that we nurture the role of pharmacy – it’s a win-win for patients, the wider public, the NHS and the taxpayer.”

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Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of

the Health Select Committee

“Now we just need to get on and say how do we deliver on getting care out into the community, reducing costs on the system, and actually delivering better care for patients, because that’s where pharmacy comes in…We know that you are a trusted source within the local community of expertise, but an under-utilised resource, and patients could benefit enormously from the expertise of their local pharmacists, so let’s get on and look at all the ways we can deliver that.”

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Alistair Burt MP, Minister of

State for Community and Social

Care 

“The pharmacy workforce already plays a vital role in supporting the health of people in their local communities, providing high quality care and support, improving people’s health and reducing health inequalities. Making better use of pharmacists can help us to keep people healthy and prevent ill health. Pharmacists can also provide advice and treatment for minor ailments and support those with long-term conditions to get the best use from medicines…There is real potential for pharmacists – both in hospitals and in the community – and their teams to play an even greater role in the future.”

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