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What the election manifestos mean for community pharmacy

C+D reveals what – if anything – each political party has pledged to do for community pharmacy in their manifestos for the general election on December 12

Healthcare is always a big issue in elections. But this time, only Labour and the Green party have explicitly included community pharmacy in their pledges.

Neither the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party (SNP), Plaid Cymru, or the Brexit Party refer specifically to the sector.

This marks a step backwards after the 2017 general election, when four of the seven main parties included community pharmacy in their manifestos.

So, what do the parties pledge that may affect community pharmacy? 

  • The Conservatives fail to mention community pharmacy in their manifesto, only discussing recruiting GP pharmacists (see below). When asked for clarification on their community pharmacy policy, a spokesperson told C+D: “We will be boosting the amounts going into community and primary care by £4.5 billion.”

Other healthcare highlights

  • The Conservatives promise to recruit 6,000 more pharmacists, nurses and physiotherapists to work in GP surgeries by 2025, with the aim of delivering 50 million more GP appointments a year. It has not yet set out a breakdown of these roles.
  • The party also pledges to “make sure patients can benefit from digital booking and consultations offered by phone, Skype or online if they want them”.
  • The price the NHS pays for medicines will “not be on the table” when negotiating trade deals, the party claims, in response to ongoing criticism from Labour.

  • Labour promises to ensure “community pharmacy is supported” as part of its vision to improve access to community care services.
  • When asked for clarification, a party spokesperson told C+D that “a Labour government would want to work with community pharmacies” to make sure they are given “the security they need”.

Other healthcare highlights

  • Labour pledges to “allocate a greater proportion” of NHS funding to community services “and build interdisciplinary, patient-focused services across primary care, mental health and social care”.
  • The party would give “better access to primary care services” to patients living in “deprived and remote communities”.
  • It reiterated its intention to abolish prescription fees in England and its pledge to deliver health services “in-house”.
  • Labour wants to introduce a state-owned generics drug company to sell medicines to the NHS at “affordable” prices.

  • C+D has asked the Liberal Democrats for more details on its community pharmacy policies.

Other healthcare highlights

  • The Liberal Democrats pledge to “make greater, appropriate use of nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists” to help end the GP shortfall by 2025.
  • The party also wants to make prescriptions for people with “chronic mental health conditions available for free on the NHS, as part of our commitment to review the entire schedule of exemptions for prescription charges”.
  • The party says it will introduce more “phone or video [GP] appointments, where clinically suitable”.
  • It also promises to reform access to cannabis through a regulated market.

  • In what is arguably the most radical reference to the sector in any of the manifestos, the Green party wants “specially qualified pharmacists” based in community pharmacies to dispense recreational drugs, such as powder cocaine and amphetamines, over the counter. These pharmacists would dispense the drugs after a short, free-of-charge consultation with the user, during which they would share “safety information” with the individual and direct them to support services, if required.

Other healthcare highlights

  • The Green party also proposes making heroin available on prescription “after a medical assessment by a doctor”.
  • The party will construct “new community health centres” to bring health services closer to people’s homes and “pioneer preventative healthcare”.
  • The party says it will ensure that all forms of birth control are free, as well as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for preventing HIV infection.

Other healthcare highlights

  • The SNP pledges to call on the UK government to pass an act guaranteeing that trade deals with other countries “do not undermine the founding principles of the NHS nor open it to profit-driven exploitation”.
  • The party promises to demand that the UK government close the “spending gap” per head between Scotland and England.

Other healthcare highlights

  • The Brexit Party pledges to “stop the taxpayer being ripped off by pharmaceutical companies”.
  • The party says that there would be “no privatisation of the NHS”.
  • It promises to introduce “24-hour GP surgeries” to relieve the strain on A&E.

Other healthcare highlights

  • Detailed healthcare proposals are hard to find in Plaid Cymru’s manifesto, but it does pledge to invest in “community mental health services”, including through the creation of more counsellors.
  • The party also calls for a “national commission on reforming [recreational] drug law”.

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