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New pharmacy minister Maria Caulfield gets flu jab at Sutton pharmacy

The recently appointed pharmacy minister Maria Caulfied received her flu vaccine at the S G Barai Pharmacy in Sutton yesterday morning (November 8). 

During her hour-long visit, the MP asked about the challenges pharmacies face at the moment, contractor Reena Barai told C+D, and was interested in hearing about how community pharmacists had stepped up to serve patients over the past 18 months.

Ms Caulfield was made a health minister in September after a cabinet reshuffle, with a portfolio covering pharmacy as well as patient safety and primary care.


“Unprecedented demand”


Ms Barai spoke to Ms Caulfield about seeing “unprecedented demand for our services during the pandemic” – which she said had led people to “really start using pharmacy differently”, she told C+D.

“A lot of the work we do goes under the radar”, Ms Barai continued, “so I was really keen to tell her some of the stories of the patients that we've supported”.

The MP “understood our concerns” about the pressure the current flat funding model places on pharmacies in England, Ms Barai claimed.

Some clinical services like the discharge medicine service “haven't taken off in the way that we hoped they would,” Ms Barai told C+D, and “the services that we were promised as part of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework haven't materialised enough for pharmacies to notice [a difference]. And yet we're busier than ever.”


"Great" to see new minister visiting pharmacies


The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which was involved in organising the visit, said it was “great to see the new minister out and about visiting community pharmacies.”

“Yesterday, she heard just how much local communities continue to rely on their pharmacies, and how this changed through the pandemic, as well as seeing some of the challenges that pharmacies face.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to discuss with Government how we can better support all community pharmacies and achieve their ambitions for the sector.”

In a video released by the Department of Health and Social Care yesterday Ms Caulfield urged patients to make use of the services available to them at local pharmacies and get their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations.

Last month (October 26), C+D reported that community pharmacies in England had smashed the 2020/2021 flu vaccination record in just under two months, delivering almost 2.9 million jabs since the season kicked off on September 1.



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