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Xrayser: Will a community pharmacist running in the General Election backfire on our sector?

As we’re about to welcome the 10th pharmacy minister since 2019, community pharmacy continues to battle pressures – Xrayser explores what the General Election could mean for the sector.

What a month for politics! Our current pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom - who is also the ninth pharmacy minister since March 2019 - has announced that she will not be standing at the next General Election. We’ve had nine pharmacy ministers in the last five years, yet we think we have a workforce issue in community pharmacy!

This also means that we’ll be working with yet another new pharmacy minister. We will need to explain to them what community pharmacy offers and the pressures we are dealing with.

Back when I decided I wanted to be a pharmacist, I naively had no idea how much politics controls the work we do. Over the years, it has become more apparent to me as I watched how much more difficult it has been for us to do our jobs.


Read more: Xrayser: Unity is vital. Is now the time for the IPA to go up against the NPA?


Every year, the cost of a prescription goes up and this year more than ever, we are seeing more patients choosing which medication they can afford and asking us to help them make this difficult decision. Most of the public don’t understand that it’s the government that take this charge and not us pharmacists.

Then there’s the drug shortages problem and medications going out of stock. It’s getting worse every day. We are told it has nothing to do with Brexit, but it does feel as though things have become progressively worse since Brexit.

Out of stock medication is an issue but not allowing pharmacists to change the medication strength or form to something that is readily available makes things worse. Having to wait for an SSP which increases admin and workload is not helping a sector which is already under so much pressure.


Read more: Xrayser: Error! The page you requested cannot be found


There are also problems around price concessions, a system which is not working for community pharmacy at all (to be honest the whole pricing system doesn’t work for community pharmacy anymore).

We all know that funding is a huge concern. The Labour Party is claiming that they will fix a broken NHS but it’s not as though they have a secret vault of cash hidden away. We have a community pharmacist as a Liberal Democrat candidate but what does this mean? Will this bring community pharmacy to the forefront? Who will head up Independent Pharmacies Association (IPA) over the next 6 weeks while their chief executive is canvassing for votes.

I have so many questions – hopefully members of IPA will have some answers…


Read more: Xrayser: Ready, set, go! Will Pharmacy First win the race?


As I write this article, today saw the release of the Health and Social Care Committee (HSCC) report on pharmacy which highlights very well that community pharmacy has so much potential and can do so much more but the current funding model is not fit for purpose.

I can only hope that the new pharmacy minister, when appointed, reads the report as soon as they start their role and works with Community Pharmacy England (CPE) to future proof the sector.

We need to see change and we need a better deal for community pharmacy. Let’s hope that the July 4 brings the change we need!


The identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but their irreverent views are known by all. You can Tweet them @Xrayserpharmacy

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