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Labour’s Pharmacist Prescribing Service may face budget challenges, notes Thorrun Govind

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Thorrun urges the Labour government to address pending agreements on funding packages with several organisations, including pharmacy 

With the Labour Party now in power, there is keen interest in the healthcare initiatives they pledged during their election campaign and how these proposals will shape the future of NHS.

One of the key pledges in their healthcare reform is the introduction of the Community Pharmacist Prescribing Service, which aims to empower pharmacists with independent prescribing rights where clinically suitable.

While pharmacists appreciated Labour’s acknowledgment of their role in patient care through expanded prescribing rights, they foresee some challenges in implementing the service.

“Budgets will be a key issue,” said Pharmacist Thorrun Govind, also a Healthcare Lawyer (Brabners LLP).

However, she noted that, given the success of pharmacist prescribing services in the devolved nations, there is “a road map in place.”

“We would do well to listen to our colleagues in the devolved nations to help improve the roll out of services in England,” the former Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England told Pharmacy Business.

While patients are used to seeing pharmacists, in a range of settings, including GP and hospital, Thorrun highlighted the importance of enhancing public perception and demonstrating the value of pharmacists’ roles to support them in offering independent prescribing services.

“We can’t rest on our laurels with this,” she said.

When asked about potential changes in pharmacy practice and workflow with the implementation of pharmacist prescribing rights, she emphasised, “I see greater use of digital tools to support pharmacists.”

“We cannot do everything, so digital innovations will help unlock some of the challenges we face. We also need to make better use of the whole workforce.”

From September 2026 all newly qualified pharmacists will be independent prescribers on the day of registration.

Thorrun underscored that pharmacists need to make the best use of their skills, in the best interests of patients.

Patients appear ready to receive prescriptions directly from pharmacists instead of doctors, when clinically appropriate, as Thorrun highlighted, “Patients also want to be able to access care in different ways, with increasing use of digital resources.”

Expressing her thoughts on the Labour Party’s victory in the general election, she remarked: “Firstly, I would like to congratulate pharmacist Taiwo Owatemi – who has chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Pharmacy – on retaining her seat in Coventry North West, and to Sadik Al-Hassan, a community pharmacist, who has become the MP for North Somerset.

“All pharmacists who have stood for election deserve praise and thanks – to stand for election isn’t an easy feat.”

Sharing her expectations from the Labour Party’s party, she stated, “It will be interesting to see how pay issues with the junior doctors are managed. Several organisations are also awaiting agreement on funding packages, and pharmacy is in this queue.”

Wes Streeting, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has acknowledged that the NHS is “broken” while setting out his mission for saving the health service.

However, he emphasised that the NHS couldn’t be fixed overnight, and it would take time and a team effort.

In his first speech as Health Secretary, Streeting also announced that talks to end their industrial action with the BMA junior doctors committee will begin this week.

Giving his first speech as Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street on 5 July, Keir Starmer declared that the Labour government would rebuild Britain and put “NHS back on its feet, facing the future.”

Pharmacy bodies, including National Pharmacy Association (NPA), have underscored how a well-funded pharmacy network can alleviate GP and hospital waiting times, significantly enhancing public health.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England (CPE), has urged the new Government to conclude negotiations on the 2024/25 Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).

 

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