The Secretary of State for Health announced a review of progress on reforms to the control of entry system for NHS pharmacies in England in a written ministerial statement on 13 June 2006, along with a wide-ranging three-month public consultation.
I think the Minister for that answer. He will realise that it is sometimes difficult and expensive for smaller community pharmacies to set up in business. When the review takes place, will he ensure that as much help as possible can be given to such pharmacies, perhaps in particular by looking again at the exemptions to the control of entry regulations and allowing pharmacies that comply with those exemptions to open for 80 hours a week, instead of 100 hours, so that people can continue to get their medication from not only supermarkets and large chain pharmacies, but smaller community pharmacies?
The hon. Gentleman may be aware that the issue provoked considerable debate in the last Parliament. The proposal at the time was for the Office of Fair Trading to take away all controls of entry to pharmacies. The Government adopted a different approach by retaining the ability of primary care trusts to control their pharmacies’ position, but did not rule out innovation in local pharmacy services when possible. It is my guess that the arrangements have served us quite well, but we will find out when we see the results of the review that has been commissioned.