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Pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom to stand down as MP

Dame Andrea Leadsom has said she will not defend her seat at the upcoming general election on July 4.

A new pharmacy minister is guaranteed after the July 4 general election as incumbent Dame Andrea Leadsom signalled that she will not be standing as a candidate in a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week (May 24).

Dame Andrea was appointed in November last year after the previous pharmacy minister Neil O’Brien resigned to “focus 100%” on his constituency after only one year in the role.  

Including Dame Andrea, there have been nine pharmacy ministers since March 2019, when Steve Brine resigned from the role. 

Read more: ‘Thriving market’: Minister upbeat about community pharmacy despite closures

Dame Andrea said that serving as Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire had been “the greatest honour”, adding that “achieving positive outcomes” for her constituents had led to some of her “happiest moments in politics”. 

But she added that “after careful reflection”, she has “decided not to stand as a candidate at the forthcoming election”. 

The letter highlighted her achievements in her 14-year career as an MP, but there were no pharmacy-related items listed in the paragraph dedicated to Dame Andrea’s time as minister for start for life, primary care and public health.  

Read more: Leadsom: ‘We want to support you in every way we can’

However, she did say that “rolling out…our dental contract reform, our new support for GPs and our world leading Smoke Free Generation bill” had been a “great privilege”.   

On Friday (May 24), the BBC reported that the bill had not been included in the pre-election legislative wash-up and was set to be shelved. 

 

Time in office 

 

Dame Andrea kicked off her short stint as pharmacy minister by penning an exclusive op-ed for C+D, in which she heralded the incoming Pharmacy First service and said that “we owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those working in this vital sector”.

She wrote exclusively for C+D again as Pharmacy First kicked off at the end of January, saying at the time that the new service “marks the start of an exciting new era for our community pharmacies”.

In March, Dame Andrea said that the community pharmacy sector “continues to be a thriving market”, during her appearance at the final session of the health and social care committee’s (HSCC) pharmacy inquiry.

Read more: General election: CPE ‘deeply concerned’ over prospect of further contract delays

The minister seemed unworried by the rate of pharmacy closures, saying that “things change” and asserting that “access remains good” despite “almost 400” net closures since the start of the 2023/24 financial year.

Her comments provoked the pharmacy negotiator to write to HSCC chair Steve Brine to say that it was “very concerned to hear statements…suggesting that the community pharmacy network is thriving”.

It said at the time that its own “analysis and the direct testimony of pharmacy owners themselves show the opposite”.

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