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Funding for local pharmacies

Volume 738: debated on Monday 16 October 2023

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that the issue of the underfunding of local pharmacies is threatening their ability to continue to serve communities and areas such as Bradford South; notes that pharmacies are vital as points of access for face-to-face healthcare advice and NHS support; and further declares that access to pharmacies is vital for preventing excess pressure on GPs and hospitals across the country.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to support pharmacies as they seek to recover from the pandemic, ensuring that they can continue to provide a high standard of care to patients within the community.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Judith Cummins, Official Report, 6 September 2023; Vol. 737, c. 510 .]


Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Neil OBrien):

The community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF) 2019-24 five-year deal, agreed between the Department, NHS England and Community Pharmacy England, commits £2.592 billion every year to the sector. In September 2022 we announced a further one-off investment in the sector of £100 million across the 2022-23 and 2023-24 financial years. In May this year, as part of our delivery plan for recovering access to primary care, we announced a further investment of up to £645 million over two years to introduce a Pharmacy First service for seven common conditions and to expand the existing pharmacy contraception and blood pressure check services. In addition, pharmacies are making a growing contribution to our flu and covid-19 vaccine programmes and can supplement CPCF income by participating in these programmes.

The current five-year deal is coming to an end at the end of this financial year and we will consider what comes next for pharmacy. As part of this planning, NHS England has committed to commissioning an economic study to better understand the cost of delivering pharmaceutical services. That study will feed into any future funding decisions on community pharmacy.

Access to pharmacies remains good, with 80% of the population in England living within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy. There are still more pharmacies now than in 2010, and twice as many pharmacies in the most deprived areas.

Access to pharmaceutical services in local areas is assessed by local authority health and wellbeing boards (HWBs). Every three years, HWBs are required to produce and publish pharmaceutical needs assessments (PNAs). The PNA outlines services available and assesses whether pharmaceutical services across the HWB area both meet the needs of the population and are in the correct locations to support the residents of the HWB area. The latest PNA for Bradford was published in October 2022 and did not identify any gaps in respect of the current or future needs of the population in any of the localities across the Bradford district that could not be met by existing providers. PNAs are used as the basis for informing decisions when applications for new pharmacies are received and for the commissioning of new services within community pharmacies.