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Lib Dems pledge 'fairer' funding and ‘more pharmacist prescribing rights’

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has promised more prescribing rights for pharmacists as well as “fairer and more sustainable funding” as he launched his party’s election manifesto today.

The Liberal Democrat Party has promised to expand pharmacists’ “prescribing rights” if elected in its manifesto for the July 4 general election, published today (June 10).

It said it would "[free] up GPs’ time by giving more prescribing rights and public health advisory services to qualified pharmacists, nurse practitioners and paramedics".

The political party also said that it would prioritise securing “a fairer and more sustainable long-term funding model for pharmacies” and “build on the Pharmacy First approach to give patients more accessible routine services”.

Vote in C+D's week three election sentiment tracker poll

And it pledged to make prescriptions for people with chronic mental health conditions free on the NHS as part of its "commitment to review the entire schedule of exemptions for prescription charges".

The party’s manifesto, presented by Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, is titled “for a fair deal”, with “high-quality healthcare” among the party’s leading priorities.


“Excellent news”


National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief executive Paul Rees said that the Lib Dems’ pharmacy funding pledges were “excellent news” for a sector facing “financial crisis”.

Rees added that the manifesto “heralds a growing political consensus” around support for community pharmacies.

He said that the Lib Dems’ references to expanding the Pharmacy First service suggest “cross party agreement” that the sector should be strengthened after the July 4 election.

Read more: Pharmacies to ‘turn out the lights’ on June 20 in ‘emergency’ protest

“Whoever forms the next government needs to invest in the [pharmacy] network so people do not lose this fabulous local health service that represents the front door to our NHS,” Rees added.

Meanwhile, Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) chief executive Malcolm Harrison said that “many” of the lobby group’s proposals “feature” in the Lib Dem manifesto.

Harrison said that the CCA “wholeheartedly” welcomes the funding pledge, describing the current funding arrangement as “untenable”.

And he added that the party’s promise to expand Pharmacy First is a “no-brainer”.


Party season


C+D’s election sentiment tracker has been running for the last two weeks, with a third poll currently underway.

The results have signalled a large base of support for parties other than Labour and the Conservatives, with “Other” options supported by 19% of C+D readers in the second week of polling.

Read more: C+D election tracker: Conservative collapse deepens in sector vote

The Lib Dems will have a community pharmacy leader featuring in the coming elections, as chief executive of the Independent Pharmacies Association (IPA) Dr Leyla Hannbeck announced that she would be running to be an MP for the party in March.

Dr Hannbeck is standing for office in the Broadland and Fakenham constituency.

Read more: IPA delivers ‘prescription’ to save the sector to Number 10

In January, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome Sarah Dyke issued a statement calling for “government action to support local pharmacies”.

She said at the time that “it is more important than ever that community pharmacies are supported” but that “the sad reality is that this government undervalues them”.

And last week, PillTime’s Sadik Al-Hassan, the Labour Party candidate for North Somerset, exclusively told C+D that he will “fight for every vote” in a close-fought battle for the seat.

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