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Jo Churchill appointed as new pharmacy minister

Jo Churchill is the new minister with responsibility for pharmacy, the government has confirmed.

Ms Churchill was appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) on July 26, following a cabinet reshuffle by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson which saw previous pharmacy minister Seema Kennedy moved to the Home Office.

The DH confirmed this afternoon (August 14) that Ms Churchill – who has been MP for Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk since 2015 – will be responsible for pharmacy as part of her new prevention, public health and primary care role. She previously held the role of assistant government whip from January 2018 to July 2019.

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

Past support for pharmacies

In a 2017 parliamentary debate about pharmacy and integrated healthcare in England, Ms Churchill said the British public “need to be made more aware of what pharmacies can do and how they can help people keep healthy”.

Ms Churchill also said the term “pharmacy-first culture” is a “good motto for everybody to live by”, and added that pharmacies are “often not used to their full value”.

In particular, Ms Churchill wanted to show both the “crucial role of community pharmacies", and the “competition they face from high street providers”, as quoted in an article published on her website following the debate.

“Our independent pharmacies provide us with choice, often with bespoke services aimed towards the needs of local communties,” she continued.

Ms Churchill added that she is a “great supporter” of pharmacies being a first port-of-call for minor ailments, and stressed the importance of local pharmacies in delivering a ”smoother running and a more joined-up healthcare system”.

Pharmacy tweets

Ms Churchill's Twitter account shows evidence of her commitment to community pharmacy over recent years.

In 2017, she tweeted an image of herself visiting Croasdales Chemist, an independent pharmacy in her constituency, to receive her flu jab.

Other tweets relating to community pharmacy include Ms Churchill's visits to a branch of Day Lewis and Elmswell Pharmacy.

What do you make of Ms Churchill's appointment?

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