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Community Pharmacies

Volume 611: debated on Monday 6 June 2016

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that local pharmacies are a vital frontline health service, forming part of the fabric of health communities across England; further that they may be forced to close as a result of Government proposals; further that this could deprive people of accessible medicines advice and other valuable support from trusted professionals; and further that it may also put more pressure on GPs and hospital services; and further that a local petition on this matter has been signed by 386 individuals.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department of Health to reassess their proposed plans and protect local pharmacies.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Jim Cunningham, Official Report, 18 May 2016; Vol. 611, c. 1-4P.]


Observations from The Minister for Community and Social Care (Alistair Burt):

The Government agree that community pharmacy is a vital part of the NHS. We recognise the public and patient support for community pharmacies locally that this petition has demonstrated.

We want to see a high quality community pharmacy service that is properly integrated into primary care and public health in line with the Five Year Forward View.

Our proposals are about ensuring we have a modern, efficient community pharmacy sector in England offering patient choice, easier access and fit for the future as well as today.

We have sought to encourage contributions from all stakeholders, including patients and the public, to help inform our discussions with the PSNC during the public phase of the consultation. This ended on 24 May. We will certainly take account of the views of the patients and public who signed this petition.

We are now entering a new confidential phase of the consultation process. We will continue to discuss the proposals with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and hold a final round of confidential discussions with other key stakeholders.

The Government are committed to maintaining access to pharmacies and pharmacy services and believe efficiencies can be made within community pharmacy without compromising the quality of services or public access to them. Our aim is to ensure that those community pharmacies upon which people depend continue to thrive. That is why we have been consulting on a pharmacy access scheme, which will provide more NHS funds to certain pharmacies compared with others, considering factors such as location and the health needs of the local population.

Our proposals are about improving services for patients and the public and securing efficiencies and savings. A consequence may be the closure of some pharmacies but that is not our aim.

We want to promote the use of online, click and collect, or home delivery models to enable patient choice whilst at the same time maintaining a network of community pharmacies for face to face high quality clinically and public health focused services.

We want to transform the system to deliver efficiency savings and ensure the model of community pharmacy reflects patient and public expectations and developments in technology.