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Jo Churchill visits constituency pharmacy to learn about sector’s issues

Pharmacy minister Jo Churchill has visited a pharmacy in her Bury St Edmunds constituency in Suffolk to learn about the challenges pharmacies are currently facing and the how the sector can support “local recovery”.

Tweeting about her visit on Friday (August 6), Ms Churchill said it had been “great” to visit Guildhall Pharmacy “to find out how they’ve adapted to pandemic demands and talk about continuity of care”.

“They offer help and advice on sexual health, travel and general ailments, many of which can be treated by your pharmacist, so think #Pharmacyfirst,” she added.

According to superintendent pharmacist Irene Nuzzo, Ms Churchill was interested in understanding what specific services the pharmacy offered, including the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS).

Suffolk local pharmaceutical council (LPC) chief officer Tania Farrow – who also met Ms Churchill at the pharmacy last week – told C+D today (August 10) that “Guildhall Pharmacy is one of the first Suffolk pharmacies to go live with GP CPCS”.

“It was useful to talk about how this was progressing and how they are working with the [GP] practice to deliver better care for their community,” Ms Farrow added.

Pressure on community pharmacy

Ms Nuzzo also discussed the national shortage of pharmacists with Ms Churchill, which she told C+D today is an issue Guildhall Pharmacy is facing at present.

“Currently it is very difficult to balance summer holidays because there are no locums,” Ms Nuzzo said.

She believes that other factors contributing to the shortage of pharmacists include community pharmacists migrating to primary care networks to work in GP surgeries, and some locums being busy working in COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Ms Churchill referred to the new “model of education for future pharmacists”, according to Ms Nuzzo. She claimed Ms Churchill said the new system was introduced “to improve the clinical skills of community pharmacists”.

Ms Nuzzo said the pharmacy minister did not discuss the issue of the advance payments the sector received last year to help with cashflow during the COVID-19 pandemic – which has been the subject of campaigns and strong criticism, including within Ms Churchill’s constituency.

However, Ms Nuzzo said the conversation had been “very honest” and that Ms Churchill seemed “really involved in [it] and [keen] to make a difference”.

LPC discussed future integration of community pharmacy within the NHS

Ms Churchill was invited to visit the pharmacy by Anil Sharma, owner of Guildhall Pharmacy and regional Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee representative for Suffolk LPC.

Ms Farrow told C+D she “also had the opportunity to discuss future integration and how we, as local pharmacy leaders, can work to ensure that community pharmacy services are embedded in patient pathways.

“We discussed how we can start to build a strong narrative so that patients know what their community pharmacy can offer and how we fit into future NHS plans,” Ms Farrow added.

“The LPC is acutely aware of the community pharmacy landscape and the challenges our pharmacies are facing every day. Being able to listen to teams on the ground locally is essential in facilitating and representing contractors in the right way.”

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