Pharmacy minister Steve Brine’s comments on the sector are an encouraging sign of a shift in approach from the Department of Health, PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe has said. However, Ms Sharpe said, more needs to be done to provide certainty for pharmacies and relieve the pressures they face. 

Steve Brine MP

In his first speech to the sector, delivered at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Annual Conference, Mr Brine said the “tremendous skills and knowledge that pharmacists and pharmacy teams have” has been underutilised.

Mr Brine pointed to initiatives, such as the work of Healthy Living Pharmacies and flu vaccination services, that highlight pharmacy’s role in promoting public health and reducing health inequalities.

The Minister has also declared his intention to work with PSNC to achieve fair, realistic and sustainable funding arrangements.

Ms Sharpe said: “We are very encouraged by this indication from the Minister of a more positive approach to community pharmacy than we have seen in recent years. The network of community pharmacies is highly valued by all those who use it; but there is a great deal more that can be done, particularly to build team working with our colleagues in general practice and to help relieve some of the pressures they are facing.

“Community pharmacy needs certainty for the future and sustainable funding levels, and we are pleased to note that the minister has acknowledged this. Funding models must value the services that pharmacies provide in their local communities and protect provision in areas of greatest need. 

“I look forward to working with the Minister and Department of Health officials to achieve this and to repair the damage of the past two years so that we can ensure that the skills of community pharmacists and their teams are properly utilised to support the NHS and patients. While it is of course disappointing that two years’ progress has been lost, we must now all focus on the future.”

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