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Who is the new pharmacy minister Seema Kennedy?

New pharmacy minister Seema Kennedy voted in favour of pharmacists’ shortages powers as well as the pharmacy funding cuts in England.

Ms Kennedy was among 292 MPs who voted in March in favour of emergency powers to allow a pharmacist to dispense an alternative in the case of a serious medicines shortage.

She was also among 305 MPs who voted in favour of the funding cuts in England in 2016. Only one Conservative MP voted against the cuts.

In a public response to an unnamed campaigner before the funding cut was implemented, she said it was “only fair to ask the sector to contribute to the £22 billion of efficiency savings, as other parts of the NHS are required to do”.

“Community pharmacies play a vital role in our health service and that is why ministers have recently announced a set of reforms to improve the service, making better use of pharmacists' valuable clinical skills, and allocating taxpayers' money more efficiently.”

She claimed that “40% of pharmacies are in clusters of three or more. This means that two fifths of pharmacies are within 10 minutes’ walk of two or more other pharmacies".

However, "this is not necessarily the case across more rural constituencies”, she added, referring to her own constituency of South Ribble in Lancashire.

“I attended the debate in the House of Commons at the beginning of the month on these reforms, and, although I sat there for an hour and a half, unfortunately, I was not chosen to speak in support of the great services that the pharmacies across South Ribble provide to the local community.”

Unable to speak in House of Commons debates

According to theyworkforyou.com, Ms Kennedy has voted with the government on the vast majority of issues since entering parliament in 2015.

In 2017 she beame the parliamentary private secretary to Prime Minister Theresa May, becoming the first Conservative woman to hold the position, according to her website.

This role means that since her appointment she has been unable to speak in the House of Commons during debates, but she said she “does escalate constituent matters and concerns directly to ministers in a multitude of ways”.

Engagement with pharmacy

Ms Kennedy has yet to make a statement about her new role, but as Conservative MP for South Ribble, she has engaged with community pharmacies in her constituency.

What is Ms Kennedy’s voting record?

Ms Kennedy campaigned to remain in the EU but voted to trigger Article 50.

She has voted five times against laws to promote equality and human rights – on issues such as the Human Rights Act 1998, the impact of tax on women and the gender pay gap, according to theyworkforyou.com.

Ms Kennedy has also voted against allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance to end their life.

She set up a commission to tackle loneliness with Labour MP Jo Cox, which she continued to co-chair with Labour MP Rachel Reeves after Ms Cox’s death in 2016.

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