Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that government's death in service benefits will include community pharmacists

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the new Conservative government will “unleash the potential of our pharmacies because there really is so much more they are capable of doing.”

Delivering his first policy speech after the general election on Wednesday, Hancock said pharmacies would “become the first port of call for patients with minor illnesses” over the next five years.

“More than 10,000 pharmacies are ready to receive referrals from other parts of the health service – and that number will grow,” he said, hinting at the newly introduced CPCS, which went live on October 29.

Stating that his four priorities – infrastructure, prevention, people and technology – would apply to each and every part of the health and care system, including pharmacy, he said the government would “double down on the tech agenda and bring the NHS into the 21st century.”

Asserting that the prevention agenda was incredibly important, he stressed the “need to make the 2020s a decade of prevention of ill health.”

Hancock also pledged massive investment in primary care calling it the “frontline of prevention”.

He reiterated that new government would deliver on “each and every commitment in our manifesto,” such as building 40 new hospitals over the next decade and recruiting 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more GPs, 6,000 more primary care professionals and creating 50 million more GP appointments.

“Redouble our efforts to be smoke-free, redouble our efforts on obesity, and embed a more proactive, predictive and personalised approach across the NHS,” Hancock added.

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) called Hancock’s statement “positive” and said that the association is looking forward to work with the government on strengthening the community pharmacy network.

NPA Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “In addition, the sector has a unique combination of strengths – accessible medicines expertise, a bricks and mortar network of premises close to where people live, work and shop and a reach into deprived communities”.

“New services such as the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS) will build on those strengths and help pharmacies become the ‘first port of call’, as the Health Secretary said in his speech at Policy Exchange on Wednesday.”

“However, there is still a real concern about pharmacies keeping their doors open and the Government should be prepared to invest more money if it becomes clear that funding is insufficient to maintain new services, such as CPCS and transfer of care,” Lyonette said.

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