Health Secretary tells pharmacy conference: You’ve stepped up and done your duty

13 Jul 2020

Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock today told pharmacy teams at a virtual conference that he sees them as “critical part of the NHS family” and hopes to see a bigger role for community pharmacy in primary care and pre-primary care.

Speaking online to members of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) he said: “We value the work that you do…and that you stayed open and served your communities in the midst of the crisis. You have done your duty and you’ve stepped up to the plate. And for that on behalf of all the communities you serve, I want to say thank you.”

He continued: “Throughout my two years as Secretary of State I’ve sought to move the system to get to a position where we support more and ask more of our community pharmacies…I completely understand that if we’re going to ask pharmacies to do more it has to be paid for… as we offer pharmacies more and more services we need to make sure we are paying properly for those services to make sure that it works for both sides.”

He said that he was “very much alive” to concerns within the sector in England that £370 of advanced payments to pharmacies for additional COVID-19 costs would need to be repaid.  However, he was unable to make a commitment at this moment about how this money will be treated.

In answer to a question about Government wanting to close three thousand pharmacies in England Mr Hancock said, “The day that idea ended was the day I became Secretary of State.”

He also emphasised that pharmacies will play “a critical role” in what he called “the biggest flu vaccination programme in history” this year.  “We’re going to need to use all the resources at our disposal,” he said.

In a now familiar theme for Matt Hancock, he explained how technology is key to helping the health system to integrate.

He said: “I see investment in technology and the opening of data, properly secured of course, as a critical part of the integration of pharmacies into the rest of the NHS, as we move the whole NHS to an increasingly system based approach where a geography has responsibility for the health of those who live within it and all parts of the NHS, all play their part in keeping people healthy.”

NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said today: “Matt Hancock has been at the heart of tackling the pandemic, leading from the front and coordinating the response from the Department of Health and Social Care. During the last few months Matt has spoken about community pharmacist and pharmacy teams on a number of occasions. He was aware, even before the coronavirus pandemic, of the important role community pharmacies play.  We’re very pleased that he’s been able to join us at the NPA conference and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with him.”

The NPA online conference continues, with sessions over the coming days covering the financial effects of COVID-19, risk assessments, opinion poll data and the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework.

Go to to view the full list and register.