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CPE: Tories’ pharmacy plans are positive but Lib Dems' ‘specific’ funding pledge is welcome


CPE: Tories’ pharmacy plans are positive but Lib Dems' ‘specific’ funding pledge is welcome

Community Pharmacy England chief executive Janet Morrison has said the Conservatives’ pledge in its general election manifesto launched today to expand Pharmacy First highlights “the strength of the support for the sector” but welcomed the Liberal Democrats’ “specific commitment” to providing sustainable funding.

Morrison (pictured) said commitments from the parties ahead of the election on July 4 to give community pharmacies a greater role – she named the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats specifically although Labour has also promised to support the sector – was to be welcomed.

However, referencing the Liberal Democrats’ promise to back community pharmacy with a “fairer and more sustainable long-term funding model,” Morrison urged the other parties to “address pharmacy’s funding crisis.”

“We have been urging all political parties to commit to working with us to introduce a sustainable funding model for community pharmacies, alongside developing pharmacy services for the benefit of patients, pharmacies and the wider NHS,” she said.

Morrison added: “The commitments made by political parties so far to look at expanding the role that community pharmacies can play – whether by expanding Pharmacy First, as pledged by the Conservative Party, or extending prescribing rights and public health services, as pledged by the Liberal Democrats – show the strength of the support for the sector, and this political consensus is very positive.”

Laying out his manifesto, prime minister Rishi Sunak said he will increase NHS spending above inflation every year and recruit 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors by the end of the next parliament. He also promised to increase productivity in the NHS, with a focus on funding better technology and making use of artificial intelligence to free up doctors’ and nurses’ time, build or modernise 250 GP surgeries and build 50 more community diagnostic centres.

Of interest to community pharmacy was his promise to expand Pharmacy First by adding to its seven conditions with menopause support, contraception and treatment for chest infections, which the Conservatives said will free up 20 million GP appointments a year. However, Sunak’s manifesto made little mention of how an expansion of Pharmacy First would be funded.

CPE pleased to see 'specific' funding commitment from Liberal Democrats

Insisting CPE was “pleased to see a specific” funding commitment from the Liberal Democrats, Morrison said: “We urge all political parties to commit to working with us to address pharmacy’s funding crisis and make the most of this vital community healthcare asset.”

Company Chemists’ Association chief executive Malcolm Harrison repeated his insistence that although an expansion of Pharmacy First is welcome, describing it as “a no-brainer,” it must be “fully funded.”

“The community pharmacy sector cannot be expected to continue to subsidise the NHS,” he said. “Core funding for pharmacies has experienced a real-terms cut in funding of 30 per cent since 2015 and nearly 1,200 pharmacies have permanently closed.

“The next Government must close the deficit in funding to protect patients’ access to the community pharmacy network. Moreover, we need the next Government to deliver on the NHS long-term workforce plan and ensure we have more community pharmacies to meet the ever-rising workload and patient demand pharmacies are facing.”

NPA: Good news Tories want greater role for pharmacies but they are 'chronically underfunded'

National Pharmacy Association chief executive Paul Rees said it was “good news the Conservatives want to give an even greater role to community pharmacies” but warned they “are chronically underfunded.”

“(Pharmacies) even have to subsidise basic NHS medication because they are not even funded properly for the medicines they dispense,” he said.

“Hundreds of pharmacies have closed and are currently being forced out of business at the rate of 10 a week. Those that remain open are only just clinging on. Government needs to fund pharmacies adequately, otherwise the pharmacy network that forms the backbone of the NHS will be irreparably damaged.”





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