Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting outlined his plans for NHS reform in his speech today (Friday 21 April). He mentioned a desire to see pharmacies take on more workload and pharmacists’ clinical skills to be better utilised. He also expressed concern at warnings from the pharmacy sector and recent pharmacy closures. Pharmacies can do more, but not without additional investment following a 30% real-terms cut in funding since 2015.
Dr. Nick Thayer, Head of Policy at the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) said:
“We are pleased to see the Shadow Health Secretary recognise the enhanced role that pharmacies should play in primary care reform.
Mr Streeting wants to see care brought closer to people’s homes and more front doors into the NHS. With 89.2%1 of the population located within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy, pharmacies do just that. They are essential to realising his vision of a ‘neighbourhood health service’.
Pharmacies could free up over 42m GP appointments annually, including 10m vaccination appointments2.
Urgent same-day appointments for minor conditions in pharmacies will immediately benefit patients by increasing GP access. The first step is for the Government to immediately commission a fully-funded Pharmacy First service in England.
With a 30% real-terms cut in funding and 720 pharmacies permanently closing3 since 2015, pharmacy desperately needs a funding injection. We cannot let the sector whither and decline, otherwise patient care, especially for those in the most deprived communities, will suffer”.
1 – Todd A, Copeland A, Husband A, et al, The positive pharmacy care law: an area-level analysis of the relationship between community pharmacy distribution, urbanity and social deprivation in England, BMJ Open 2014;4:e005764. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005764, available here
2 – CCA prospectus – a future for community pharmacies, February 2023, available here
3 – CCA, 1000+ pharmacies and GP practices in England have permanently closed since 2015, February 2023, available here. Our analysis shows that there has been a net loss of 720 pharmacies since 2015 – of these 41% have occurred in the 20% most deprived areas of England.