Westminster Hall debate
On the 23rd February, a debate took place in Westminster Hall on the future of community pharmacy and the potential impact of Government cuts.
An overview of the main points raised can be viewed below:
Derek Thomas, Conservative MP for St Ives said “the community pharmacist is part of the solution, not part of the problem, in what we want to do for the NHS.
“Community pharmacies have a vital role in giving advice and in diverting patients from GPs and emergency departments.”
John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley said “in urban areas, people are finding it more and more difficult to get appointments with their GPs and are going to accident and emergency. The best way to relieve that pressure is to encourage more people to go to our well-resourced local community pharmacies, maybe even rather than chain pharmacies.”
Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington said “a couple of examples were cited to me. First, a pharmacist was involved in spotting someone who was having a cardiac arrest in their pharmacy, and then in helping someone else who had fallen outside the pharmacy and damaged their face quite severely. If we lost pharmacists and their extra input, that would have a significant impact on patients in a way that has really not been explained so far.
Huw Merriman, Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle said “some 28% of my constituents, across our 200 square miles of East Sussex, are over the age of 65. Losing our pharmacies would affect all my constituents, but I am particularly concerned about the impact on the elderly and vulnerable.”
Julian Sturdy, Conservative MP for York Outer said “a pharmacist in my constituency contacted me. He said that, if the proposed cuts go through, he will have to cut staff and the apprentices he is training, as well as reduce opening hours and stop the free services, such as the deliveries to housebound patients. The cuts would not just stop the important services that my constituents and many others get from rural pharmacies; it would also deeply impact on skills, and on skills going back into the services that we have to protect.”
Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North said “the proposals are nothing to do with improving patient service. They are nothing other than a pathetic attempt to balance the books on the backs of one of the most productive, hard-working, positive and excellent groups of people in our society: the modern community pharmacist. Every day, they perform a miracle on the high street. They have changed from the old-fashioned world of the dispensing retail chemist to the modern world of preventative medicine. In fact, in many ways pharmacies are multi-speciality community providers.”
Oliver Colville, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said “pharmacies, particularly community pharmacies, are undergoing unprecedented changes. They want to expand and to assist in meeting primary care demand, diverting activity from A&E to support more patients with self-care and in the prevention of ill health. Pharmacy is increasingly seen as a large part of the solution to the shortage of doctors and nurses in primary care. We are watching the spiralling demand for practices and community pharmacies, which is about delivering that patient care.”
“We need to support the innovation in roles to facilitate change in the infrastructure: information exchange, organisation, and working practices. Current investment in the innovation fund will probably not provide the level of investment needed, and access to transformation funds for this purpose seems unlikely. The change is needed to manage demand more effectively, but, unless supported, we place the system and the patients it serves at high risk.”
Graham Jones, Labour MP for Hyndburn said “my view is that the UK’s pharmacy network must be protected. They are vital because they are accessible and have good geographical coverage: 95% of the population can currently get to a pharmacy on foot within 20 minutes. For deprived populations, the elderly and young families whose car may be taken to work, such services that can be reached by walking are essential.”
Barbara Keeley, Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South said “community pharmacies provide an essential service in dispensing both medication and the essential information and advice that can prevent people from having to visit their GP for common health problems.”