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Community Pharmacies

Volume 605: debated on Tuesday 9 February 2016

11. What assessment he has made of the potential effects on public health of his Department’s proposals on the future of community pharmacies. (903544)

It is my considerable honour, Mr Speaker, to respond to the hon. Gentleman in his victorious mode.

Community pharmacy is a vital part of the NHS and it plays a pivotal role in improving the public’s health in the community. We want a high-quality community pharmacy service that is properly integrated into primary care and public health. The proposed changes will help us, in conjunction with the pharmacy profession, to do just that.

I am very grateful to the Minister for that answer. There is always a place for him in our team next year, although we are running trials in the next few weeks.

Despite the generosity of the Minister’s response, does he not accept that community pharmacies are of great and growing importance to our constituents and provide an ever-increasing range of healthcare and advice in accessible high street locations? What message does he have for these dedicated professionals, who, frankly, now fear for the future due to the uncertainty arising from the announcement of a 6% cut in funding for the NHS pharmacy service?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman not only for his question but for the way he put it. The message is that community pharmacy does, and is doing, an extraordinary and important job, but it will change. In 2013, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said in its publication, “Now or Never: Shaping pharmacy for the future”:

“The traditional model of community pharmacy will be challenged”

due to

“economic austerity in the NHS , a crowded market of local pharmacies, increasing use of technicians and automated technology to undertake dispensing, and the use of online and e-prescribing”.

It pointed to the massive potential of community pharmacists to do more and sees pharmacy as ideally placed

“to play a crucial role in new models of…care.”

All that is to come. We are negotiating with the pharmaceutical profession. A consultation is going on. There is a great future for pharmacy, but, like so much else, it will be different.