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Jacob Rees-Mogg praises pharmacies for hard work during COVID pandemic

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, has commended pharmacies for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling them the “bedrock of local communities”.

The Conservative MP was responding to a question about pharmacy funding from fellow Conservative MP Elliot Colburn during business of the house questions last week (November 19).

Mr Colburn said pharmacists were “ready to do so much more than they currently can provide, including providing COVID vaccinations”.

He asked: “Can we have a debate about expanding the role of community pharmacies, and ensuring they have the funding model that reflects the work that they do?”

In response, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “have shown themselves [to be] a bedrock of local communities this year. Their doors have remained open and the pharmacists within welcoming and wise.

“They have been a model of public service and I would like to commend community pharmacies for the essential work they have done throughout the pandemic.”

He added that the vaccination programme will require a “great national effort” but did not make a commitment on pharmacists’ roles in this, nor on funding. 

“[Mr Colburn] makes an important point about the role of pharmacists in distributing and administering the vaccine. He is absolutely right to raise this, and I will pass his suggestion on to the secretary of state,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

NPA: “Meaningful support” needed

In response, National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette said that Mr Rees-Mogg is the latest in a “long line” of cabinet ministers who have praised community pharmacy.

He said: “It is time to turn this into meaningful support on the ground, which has to include providing sufficient funding.

“There is loads of goodwill, but the key matter of resources keeps bouncing around between the Treasury, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care. One of these must seize the initiative, or they will all be jointly responsible for the erosion of a critical health care asset.”

He added that the parliamentary profile of community is rising, partly due to the advocacy of pharmacy leaders and the “excellent support” by pharmacy teams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It comes after Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann praised community pharmacy teams for their work in the face of “unrelenting pressures” this year.

Pharmacy minister Jo Churchill also recognised the “outstanding” effort of community pharmacies in an open letter in April.

What do you make of Mr Rees-Mogg's comments?

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