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NPA chief backs leaked Labour manifesto promising halt to pharmacy closures

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: May 30, 2017 | UPDATED: May 30, 2017

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Ian Strachan has expressed his support for proposals contained in a leaked Labour manifesto in which the party promised to stop the closure of pharmacies and review access to pharmacy services in deprived areas.

The National Pharmacy Association chairman said his organisation was “naturally delighted” that Labour was “committed to halting the programme of pharmacy closures.”

In the wake of the government’s funding cuts high court victory over community pharmacy, those closures look like continuing under the Conservatives. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) told Pharmacy Business in November last year that he would increase pharmacy funding if the party came to power.

In its manifesto ahead of the June 8 general election Labour promised to “halt pharmacy closures and review provision to ensure all patients have access to pharmacy services, particularly in deprived or remote communities.”

Labour pledged to inject an extra £6 billion into the NHS each year from new taxes on the country’s highest earners.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth also said he would halt sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) which aim to improve out-of-hospital care through better collaboration and intergration as envisaged in the Five-Year Forward View.

That has created an opportunity for community pharmacy involvement at a local level, although Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) have struggled to engage with individuals involved in STPs. Ashworth said that under Labour there would be “a moratorium on the STPs.”

Strachan said: “There is a better way to achieve efficiencies than by applying funding cuts, one which builds on the strengths of the community pharmacy network rather than dismantles it.

“With consistent support from policy makers, pharmacies can do much more to take pressure off GPs and hospitals, make access to NHS care more convenient and help people with long term conditions.

“Importantly, the Labour party is also calling for a review of access to pharmacy services in deprived areas. The community pharmacy network is a part of the health service that can truly be said to serve all communities, including the most vulnerable neighbourhoods.

“It is vital to preserve access to pharmaceutical care for those in most need. Cuts to local pharmacies will have a disproportionate effect on people who live in the most deprived areas of England, where there is already a lack of NHS healthcare provision.

“The NPA has been in dialogue with the Labour front bench team for many months and they have been vocal in parliament on this issue.

“Politicians from all political parties have expressed their support for local pharmacies, so we look forward to similar commitments in other manifestos.”