Peter Aldous, along with 36 other parliamentarians, has signed a letter to Steve Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to urge the Government to provide an urgent funding injection to keep community pharmacies afloat.
The MP signed the letter which also calls for the implementation of a “Pharmacy First” scheme, designed to give the public direct access to self-care advice and information, and treatment for minor ailments, including conditions such as Urinary Tract Infections and minor skin infections.
The letter urges the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to:
- Provide a short-term financial injection to stabilise the position and enable pharmacies to keep their doors open.
- Commit to working with the sector to create a fully-funded Pharmacy First service to build positively on the contributions pharmacies can make. With adequate funding this service could ease wider pressures on GPs and hospitals.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which represents the 11,000+ community pharmacies in England, estimates that pharmacies have seen their funding reduced by 30% in real terms since 2015 and they are now often dispensing NHS medicines and providing other services at a loss. They warn that without urgent action, increasing numbers of pharmacies will close their doors. PSNC has also expressed fears that the pharmacies which remain open will not have sufficient resources to help all the patients displaced by closures.
Echoing the concerns of PSNC, the All-Party Parliamentary Pharmacy Group (APPG) called on the Government to take urgent action in its January ‘The Future of Pharmacy Manifesto’ to relieve the funding pressures on the community pharmacy sector in the short term and review the long-term funding model for pharmacy. The pharmacy sector is also launching a ‘Save Our Pharmacies’ campaign to draw attention to the urgent situation that all pharmacies are facing.
The MP letter follows the announcement of the closure, consolidation or eventual sale of 237 LloydsPharmacy branches based in national supermarket Sainsbury’s, many of which are located in the constituencies of MPs attaching their support to the letter. This is in addition to recent pharmacy closures announced by Boots, Tesco and Asda.
Peter Aldous said:
“During the pandemic, pharmacy teams remained open throughout, ensuring critical patient access to their services. It is concerning that a large number of pharmacies are struggling. I urge the Government to take steps now to prevent the deterioration of our pharmacy network.
“We must not take for granted the incredible work of community pharmacy teams in our area. Without the healthcare advice and array of clinical services provided by pharmacies, our NHS would struggle to function and likely be overwhelmed. I urge the Government to take immediate action to resolve the funding crisis engulfing the community pharmacy sector, to ensure that our high-street pharmacies can continue to provide the kind of high-quality service that we have all come to rely on and expect.’’