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Conservative MP 'deeply regrets' pharmacy funding cuts

Steve Double MP said he “deeply regrets” the pharmacy funding cuts in England and has called for more money and resources for the sector to realise its full potential.

The Conservative MP and vice chair of the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) said in years to come, the 2016 decision to cut pharmacy funding in England by 12% will be seen as “short-sighted”.

Mr Double strongly supports community pharmacy having a greater role on the frontline of the NHS and being the “first port of call” for patients, he told delegates at a Public Policy Exchange event on the future of the sector last month.

“If that is the point we want to get to, then we have to make sure the resources are put there to enable that to happen,” he added.

And while “throwing more money at the NHS isn’t the answer, I have come to the conclusion that some of that extra money really does need to be put into community pharmacy”.

“We need to review the funding and make sure that community pharmacies are funded for the services we want them to deliver, and the resources are there for them to do that,” he stressed.

Pharmacy must be true partner of the NHS

Mr Double, who represents St Austell and Newquay, said the overall approach to integrating pharmacy into the NHS must also be reviewed in order for pharmacies to be part of a “true partnership”.

He suggested that “community pharmacies are the most efficient part of the NHS”, are “often the first to adapt to new opportunities and new technology” and are “businesses at the heart of our communities”, which is a model that the wider NHS should “utilise”.

“More often than not, [contractors] have their own lives invested in that business so they are going to make sure it is well run. Sadly, this can’t be said of all parts of the NHS,” Mr Double claimed.

Mr Double was speaking ahead of the negotiations for the 2019-20 contract in England.

Announcing the start of the funding talks yesterday (April 9), health secretary Matt Hancock said: “As part of the long-term plan for the NHS we want to see pharmacies deliver a wider range of more efficient services and give patients more control over their care and personal health.”

What do you make of Mr Double's comments?

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