Barry Gardiner
Barry Gardiner MP. Photo: ©Edward Lloyd/Alpha Press

Labour MP Barry Gardiner has raised concerns that the £645m cash injection announced by the government for community pharmacy is, in effect, ‘frozen funding’ for the next two years.

Speaking on Tuesday (May 9) on the BBC’s Politics Live, Gardiner said funding for community pharmacies “was cut before 2015, then it was frozen and now the latest announcement says that it’s going to be frozen for a further two years.”

He said with a current national contract, which already represented a 25 per cent funding cut in real terms, it was not appropriate to ask for community pharmacy “to take on more work” without adequate support.

“I heard the prime minister earlier this morning (May 9) on TV saying ‘we are investing more in pharmacies’.

“No you are not. You just concluded a contract that says for the next two years it will be absolutely flatlined.”

He added that “there will be no more money” for community pharmacy and that steeply rising costs due to inflation were “eating into that contract’s health”.

Gardiner said community pharmacists “do a phenomenal job” but regretted that from a total of just 11,000, some 700 pharmacies have been lost due to funding cuts.

Asked if pharmacists were expected to do more for less, Conservative MP Henry Smith said the focus on supporting pharmacists to help people with minor ailments was “a sensible way forward” and that the move would “certainly help free up GP access”.

Commenting on the £240 million funding to end ‘8am scramble for GP appointments’, he said there was record amount of funding that was going into the National Health Service and that’s why it’s important that a whole range of measures were introduced to “make sure that we have a health system that is reformed and affordable”.

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