The Pharmacy Inquiry, which was scheduled to begin this week, has been postponed for a ‘couple of weeks’ due to the King’s Speech
MP Steve Brine, the chair of the health and care committee, said that the healthcare in the UK “doesn’t work without pharmacy”.
The inquiry focuses on addressing current issues, particularly around the “funding model, digital infrastructure and workforce recruitment, training and retention.”
Brine said at the Sigma annual conference on Sunday, that he wants to “focus on the sector”, and “drill down into some of the challenges and potential” that lies ahead.
“The Health and Social Care Committee, we think about much of our work through the lens of pharmacy, what role it plays, the quality of care that it delivers, and the potential for it to do more,” said Brine.
He further said that he wants to “build on the groundwork” and to “cover as many of the different pharmacy services within the pharmacy sector as we can, so pharmacy in our communities, in hospitals and general practice”.
However, the key question that arises here is “What does the future policy look like? What must the government do in the present to ensure that jobs appear to be realised?”
Brine told the attendees at the conference that he aims to keep the committee’s inquiry “on the shoulders of the work that’s been done in the past” on pharmacy.
He said: “You would be forgiven for thinking ‘another inquiry, another report,’ but we are not starting from day one. We stand on the shoulders of the work that’s been done in the past, the work I did in government, and the work Community Pharmacy England and King’s Fund recently did, the brilliant thesis from the University of Bath that Bharat (Sigma’s founder) and Sigma which was brought to the House of Commons this summer, we stand on the shoulders of all of that.”
Earlier this year, the Health and Social Care Committee announced it had launched a pharmacy inquiry into action needed to ensure community pharmacies are “in the best shape” to meet demands and take advantage of future opportunities.
The inquiry explores “issues impacting different types of pharmacy, with a particular focus on community, primary care and hospital pharmacy services”.
The idea is to implement a ‘Pharmacy First’ strategy that will see community pharmacists commissioned with more services such as contraception and hypertension, so patients receive professional healthcare advice, treatments, and medicines for common illnesses without the need for an appointment.
Brine confirmed the inquiry’s first session will be “very soon” which will be an “opportunity” for witnesses, and to give “instructions for challenges and opportunity for the sector.”
As stated, it will be a “live piece of work” for everyone to make “suggestions as to who we might talk to.”
He said: “It is there for you to make suggestions for yourself to be guests on the TV show. That’s how I consider this a select committee.”
Moreover, he also said that he wants to “cover key issues” and his committee will “come up with solutions or recommendations” that will “inform the next government whatever colour that is as much as it will the current government.”
Brine’s committee is currently in the midst of a significant inquiry on prevention and healthcare which prominently features pharmacy.
He added: “We’ve already done the vaccination work stream, the health of places where we live, where we work and how they impact other determinants of poor health.
“We’re now moving on to addictions, so alcohol and smoking. And then we’re going to do sexual health as the fourth workstream.”
Moreover, he praised PM Rishi Sunak’s bold step to put a ban on smoking which will “save millions of lives”.
In conclusion, he stressed the select committee’s dedication to prioritising the pharmacy sector over the next 12 months and keeping their work at the forefront.