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Cross-Party MPs urge Pharmacy Minister to address funding crisis

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“The financial pressures facing community pharmacies are extreme and show no sign of improving”

A collective of 13 MPs from different parties has written a letter to Pharmacy Minister, Dame Andrea Leadsom MP, urging her to address the acute funding crisis facing the community pharmacy sector.

While they welcome the introduction of the Pharmacy First service, the MPs highlighted that community pharmacies won’t be able to alleviate additional strain on other parts of the NHS “if the current, acute funding crisis is not addressed.”

If provided the necessary investment and support, community pharmacies can do a lot more to contribute to key NHS priority areas and assist in restoring the health service to a sustainable position, they said.

The joint cross-party letter reads: “We are pleased that the introduction of the Pharmacy First service in England has so far been a success. And we are encouraged by the way the community pharmacy sector has stepped up to implement the service, despite the severe pressures they face.

“Nevertheless, despite the great work pharmacies are doing, we are acutely aware of, and concerned by, the funding crisis they still face and the pressure on services, businesses and staff that this compounds. This strain is in turn felt by patients and the public and will only limit their ability to receive the care they need, when they need it.”

The letter, coordinated by Community Pharmacy England (CPE), called on the Pharmacy Minister to urgently consider a government commitment to collaborating with the pharmacy sector to “create an economically sustainable core funding model that protects community pharmacies and gives the sector confidence for the future.”

Additionally, they emphasised the need for expanding the Pharmacy First service to offer walk-in consultations for more common minor conditions to ensure accessible care and ease pressure on general practice.

Launched 31 January 2024, this new service enables community pharmacies to assess and treat patients for seven common conditions – sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bites, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65).

The MPs also urged the Pharmacy Minister to extend other clinical services that pharmacies can provide such as vaccinations, women’s health services, support for healthy lifestyles and long-term conditions management.

CPE chief executive Janet Morrison noted that 98 per cent of pharmacies are now offering the service, which demonstrates “just how much pharmacies can achieve and how much they can support patients and the wider NHS.”

She expressed her gratitude to all MPs who signed the letter and those who attended the Parliamentary drop-in event on the Pharmacy First service last for their continued and lasting support for community pharmacies.

Morrison underscored that the financial pressures facing pharmacies are “extreme and show no sign of improving.”

“It is imperative that we continue to make the case to Government Ministers that the sector is far from thriving and is in fact close to damage and change beyond all recognition,” she added.

The signatories of the joint cross-party letter include Peter Aldous MP, Neil Coyle MP, Marco Longhi MP, Peter Dowd MP, Derek Thomas MP, Greg Smith MP, Sarah Dyke MP, Rachael Maskell MP, Steve Double MP, Theresa Villiers MP, Edward Timpson KC MP, Martin Vickers MP and Kevin Foster MP.

 

 

 

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