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Brine: We ‘must not let’ independent prescribers leave community pharmacy

Pharmacist independent prescribers must not be allowed to leave the community sector because they “lack opportunities”, the House of Commons health and social care committee chair has warned.

Steve Brine, who is also a former pharmacy minister, made the comments at Sigma’s 2023 conference today (March 7).

He told delegates that the committee has heard that “pharmacists who have prescribing qualifications currently lack opportunities to utilise these skills in the community sector”.

Read more: Pharmacy employers must make jobs more ‘attractive’, says England CPhO

This “can lead them to leave community pharmacy in favour of a setting that allows them to use their enhanced skills”, he added. 

“We must not let this happen,” he said.

Community pharmacy inquiry “later in 2023”

Mr Brine said that his committee is planning to launch a policy inquiry focussing specifically on community pharmacy “later in 2023”.

And he added that responses received to its current inquiry into prevention show a “strong interest” in community pharmacy, giving “an indication of the vital importance of this sector when it comes to prevention”.

Read more: Pharmacy First service ‘most likely’ route to new funding, PSNC boss predicts

“In three weeks calling for ideas for that inquiry, we received nearly 600 proposals and community pharmacy you won't be surprised to know came up repeatedly,” he told delegates.

While the committee “hasn’t yet decided” which proposals it will take forward in the prevention inquiry, submissions that are not selected “will almost certainly feed into and inform our community pharmacy inquiry”, he said.

“Bright future” if backed by funding

Community pharmacy “offers so many inspiring [and] innovative examples of the potential of pharmacy to change the health and social care landscape”, Mr Brine added.

But he is “keenly aware” of the “challenges” facing the sector at the moment, he said.

Read more: Almost a third of online pharmacies failing to meet standards, warns GPhC

“Although there undoubtedly are challenges ahead, many of them related to workforce, I feel very confident that community pharmacy - if funded properly by the government - has a very bright future indeed,” he concluded.

Mr Brine was appointed as the new chair of the House of Commons health and social care committee in November, after former health secretary and now chancellor Jeremy Hunt stepped down from the role.

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