FILE PHOTO: Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Stressing that community pharmacists and their teams need a “funding model that reflects the work that they do,” a Conservative Party MP has called for a parliamentary debate on expanding the role of community pharmacies.

Elliot Colburn, a member of parliament for Carshalton and Wallington since 2019, made the call during Business Questions in the Commons today (Nov 19).

Leader of the house Jacob Rees-Mogg replied by saying that community pharmacy teams had been “a model of public service”.

Colburn asked: “Pharmacists have remained opened during this pandemic, not only in Carshalton and W but across the country, and pharmacists tell me they are ready to do so much more than they currently can provide, including providing Covid vaccinations. So can we have a debate about expanding the role of community pharmacies, and ensuring they have the funding model that reflects the work that they do?”

Rees-Mogg replied“My HF (honourable friend) raises a really important point. Pharmacists have shown themselves [to be] a bedrock of local communities this year. Their doors have remained open and the pharmacists within welcoming and wise.

“They have been a model of public service and I would like to commend community pharmacies for the essential work they have done throughout the pandemic. The drive to vaccinate the nation will require a great national effort, and he makes an important point about the role of pharmacists in distributing and administering the vaccine. He is absolutely right to raise this and I will pass his suggestion on to the Secretary of State.”

In his response, Mark Lyonette, chief executive at the National Pharmacy Association, said: “Jacob Rees-Mogg is the latest in a long line of cabinet ministers to heap praise on community pharmacy, but it is time to turn this into meaningful support on the ground, which has to include providing sufficient funding.

“There is loads of goodwill, but the key matter of resources keeps bouncing around between the Treasury, NHS England and DHSC.  One of these must seize the initiative, or they will all be jointly responsible for the erosion of a critical health care asset.

“The parliamentary profile of community pharmacy is rising, partly due to constant advocacy by pharmacy leaders but largely because the excellent support given by pharmacy teams during this pandemic is there for all to see.”

“The NPA will keep up our efforts to mobilise political support for the vital work of pharmacies across the land, which is a time-intensive task but very important to the future of the sector.”

Business Questions in the House of Commons are held every Thursday as oral questions to the leader of the house in which MPs often ask the government to make time for a debate on a specific issue.

Reena Barai, NPA Board member and owner of S.G. Barai Pharmacy in Sutton, said: “Elliot Colburn visited my pharmacy a few weeks ago and is really supportive of the work we do here. True to his word, he is pressing for action on funding and I hope for the sake of my own patients and many others that something comes of it.”

If you want to share your stories and/or experiences with us, please send an email to [email protected]