Bhayani’s Battlebus

31 May 2024

Our resident public affairs guru emerges from the shadows – influencing ministers, MPs and advisors in the corridors of power – to give the lowdown on the pharmacy election as it unfolds.

There’s an old saying in the world of public affairs – good things come to those who wait. It’s three years since we started trying to get the House of Commons Health Select Committee to look at pharmacy.

This week they published their pharmacy inquiry report – and what a report. They’re calling for a complete overhaul of the community pharmacy contract, a better funding deal for pharmacies, substantive action on medicine shortages, an end to pharmacies making a loss on dispensing, and expanding pharmacy services with the right investment and support to improve access to health care.

We spend much of our time trying – and ultimately succeeding – to influence this sort of political thinking. Just before the dissolution of Parliament for the general election, there is a final period known as ‘wash-up’, which is the opportunity for Parliament to get through any unfinished business before dissolution. We are very lucky that the Health Select Committee managed to publish this report before the dissolution of Parliament, otherwise it would have never seen the light of day!

Why is it still important? Whatever the outcome of the election, we will be pushing for the new Government to respond to this report and to accept the recommendations. We believe it’s a strong report and therefore it would be hard for a future Government to ignore! This report provides a great opportunity for the next Government to make a positive investment in community pharmacy to truly unleash the sector’s full potential and ensure we are a thriving part of the NHS!

Meanwhile Labour’s Wes Streeting, who would like to be the next Health Secretary in England, has been out and about talking about the NHS. Another great opportunity for us. Wes was slightly derailed by Labour’s issue over Diane Abbott’s candidacy, but you can already see he’s talking about NHS waiting lists and the backlog. Each time we see Wes and his team – and we are regularly in contact – we make the case for more pharmacy investment and greater support, setting up what we hope will be a constructive and positive relationship if he gets into the Secretary of State’s office.

These are important pointers for our lobbying – we in pharmacy can help the next Government solve these problems if they fund us properly – very much the point the influential Commons Health Select Committee is making.