Changes to community pharmacy in England raised at PMQs

Today at Prime Minister's Questions, a question was asked relating the recent Government proposals around community pharmacies;

Sue Hayman (Lab, Workington): More than 2,000 people have signed a petition, started by Allisons Chemist in Cockermouth in my constituency, calling on the Government not to cut the funding of community pharmacists. Given the major reports last week regarding the actions of Boots, which now faces investigation by the regulator, is it not time that the Prime Minister and his Government supported independent ?pharmacists, such as Allisons, which are a vital lifeline for our community and help to keep our high streets alive?

The Prime Minister: We are supporting rural pharmacies —there is a specific scheme to help there—but in the last five years there has been a massive increase in pharmacy spending. As we make sure that as much of the NHS’s resources as possible go to the frontline—the doctors and nurses, the operations and the A&E we want—we have to make sure we are getting value for money in pharmacy, while also protecting the rural pharmacies the hon. Lady speaks about.

Sandra Gidley, EPB Board Chair, has previously said about the Government proposals;

“The RPS is extremely concerned about the announced funding cut for community pharmacy. It believes the proposed scale of the reduction in support for the service has the potential to adversely impact patient care. We also believe the cuts are short sighted, coming just as phenomenal pressures on other parts of the NHS mean that community pharmacists are now seen as an accessible source for advice, helping people stay well through treating them for many minor ailments and health conditions.

“When providing medicines for some patients, particularly those with long-term health conditions, pharmacists often need to talk to people to check things with them and answer any questions they may have about their medications. To ensure safety and effectiveness they also need to ensure patients understand exactly how their medicines should be taken.

“With ever growing pressures on GP surgeries and hospital A&E departments, an integrated community pharmacy network is key to ensuring people have access to the healthcare they need. People now regularly go to their community pharmacist for flu jabs, health checks and for preventative therapies such as weight management and stopping smoking. All this patient-focused clinical support goes a long way to ease the growing pressure on GP surgeries and hospital emergency departments.

“There is a very real concern within the profession that the Government is attempting to cut the cost of the community pharmacy service without considering the real value we provide to patients and the public. Government must consider the capacity that the community pharmacy network provides to relieve pressures on GPs and A&E.”

You can view the question and Prime Minister's response here on Parliament TV.