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MPs launch inquiry into pharmacy services


MPs launch inquiry into pharmacy services

Health select committee chair Steve Brine MP (

MPs have launched a new inquiry into “the readiness of pharmacy services to capitalise on future opportunities” in a changing healthcare landscape.

The inquiry, which was announced earlier today and is accepting evidence until Thursday July 6, will have a “particular focus on community, primary care and hospital pharmacy services,” said the parliamentary health and social care select committee, which comprises 11 cross-party MPs. 

It will consider present challenges like funding, workforce recruitment and retention and digital capabilities, as well as the independent prescribing agenda and “what action needs to be taken now to ensure the potential of pharmacy is realised”.

The select committee’s ‘independent expert panel’ has also undertaken “a separate evaluation of Government commitments in the area of pharmacy,” the statement added.

Select committee chair and former pharmacy minister Steve Brine said: “It is clear that pharmacy has a central role to play in the future of the NHS. With a greater focus on personalised and patient-centred healthcare, we will be asking what more must be done to make sure that the profession is in the best shape to meet demand.

“Better use of the pharmacy workforce would reduce pressures on general practice and hospitals. However, this will not happen without a planned workforce with the funding, supervision and training to support it.

“At the end of our inquiry, we will be making recommendations to the government on what action needs to be taken to ensure the potential of pharmacy is realised.”

Commenting on the announcement, Rowlands Pharmacy managing director Nigel Swift said it was “good news” but added that the sector “urgently needs” clarity around when the recently announced investment of £645m in pharmacy services will be made available.

Mr Swift said: “The service specification: providing new patient services is not something you can do overnight – it takes time to train staff, draft SOPs and ensure there are enough professional staff to provide these new services.

“I hope the inquiry will recognise that the current network is overstretched and therefore needs a long-term sustainable funding commitment to a pharmacy first model (not simply £645m for two years and what then?); that we need investment now, not ‘jam’ tomorrow otherwise the rate of pharmacy closures will continue in the months ahead; and that the NHS should halt ‘head hunting’ community pharmacy professionals into primary care network roles.

“Expectations of what community pharmacy could and should deliver have never been higher; recognition of the importance of our sector has never been higher; but we need vision and commitment beyond just two years.”

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