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Channel 4 health debate calls for pharmacists to ‘grill’ politicians

Channel 4 will host a “special” TV debate focussing on health on June 24 ahead of the general election, it has revealed.

Channel 4 has called for pharmacists to apply to be audience members for its June 24 health debate ahead of the general election on July 4, C+D has learned.

A producer for the show yesterday (June 11) said that they were seeking pharmacists to “respond to the proposals to expand the Pharmacy First scheme” and “share their experiences of working in healthcare [or] the NHS”.

Read more: Pharmacy First spending set to rise to £250m by 2027 under Tory manifesto

The broadcaster is looking for pharmacists to ask questions to a panel of politicians as well as to “share any concerns, thoughts or suggestions for the best way to improve services, keep care effective and safe and not overstretch an already flat-out workforce”, they added.

The audience sign-up page for the show promises that selected audience members may be able to “grill senior politicians on their plans for the NHS” at the filming of the debate.

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

The programme, which is produced by Mentorn Media for the independent broadcaster, will be recorded on the evening of Monday June 24 in West London, it said.

The producer told C+D today (June 12) that the show was “casting a wide net” to build its studio audience for the debate, which will also include “doctors, other clinical staff, members of the public and those who have had experiences of the NHS”.

But the producer could not confirm which politicians would appear in the debate.


“Special one-off debate”


A Channel 4 spokesperson confirmed to C+D today that the “special one-off debate” – entitled “NHS In Crisis? The Debate” – will be hosted by Channel 4 News’ main anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy and broadcast at 10pm on June 24.

“Healthcare is one of the most pressing issues in this summer’s general election,” they said, adding that the show will see “politicians, patients, medical staff health experts and members of the public discuss how we can fix our NHS”.

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

The programme will “examine political parties’ plans for the NHS and include testimony from those who work in and use the service from A&E to primary care, maternity to mental health”, the spokesperson told C+D.

They added that it will address questions such as “is the solution more money, and does that mean better care? And what other solutions are there to relieve the immense pressures on the NHS?”


Election fever


The debate comes as political parties have begun to release their plans for pharmacy and healthcare this week.

The Green Party today pledged to inject billions of pounds into primary care and “work towards no more HIV transmissions” by 2030 by making pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) available in pharmacies.

Read more: Green Party pledges to make PrEP available in pharmacies and online

Yesterday, the Conservative Party said that it would expand Pharmacy First, with estimated spending increasing to £250 million per year by 2027/28, as it released its manifesto.

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

Read more: NPA lauds Labour plan to reform high street pharmacy business rates

On Saturday, the Labour Party said that it will “replace the business rates system” to “level the playing field between the high street and online giants” – with sector leaders lauding the potential to “move some of the business rates burden away” from high street pharmacies.

Meanwhile, C+D has been running a weekly election sentiment tracker – with this week’s results revealing that Labour had a significant lead while the Conservative Party was preferred by just one in ten readers. 

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

Earlier this month, C+D published an exclusive interview with PillTime’s superintendent pharmacist Sadik Al-Hassan, the Labour Party candidate for North Somerset. 

“I’m standing in politics because I believe in serving local communities and making a difference,” Al-Hassan told C+D at the time.

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