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Volume 405: debated on Monday 12 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to safeguard the future of local pharmacies and chemists within the national health service. [111744]

We are committed to improving access to pharmacies and to driving up the quality of the services they provide for patients. We are currently discussing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and the NHS Confederation a new national contractual framework to support these objectives. We aim to have this in place by April 2004. Additionally, national health service primary care trusts can devise contracts for local pharmaceutical services, which address particular needs.