Dear Seema Kennedy MP,
On behalf of Chemist+Druggist (C+D), I would like to congratulate you on your appointment as minister with responsibility for community pharmacy.
You have taken on this role at a critical time for community pharmacists and their teams in England – who have struggled under the weight of funding cuts for more than two years. Negotiations for a new funding settlement have recently begun, and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee will be putting forward a raft of proposals that will combine fairer funding with making better use of these passionate, hard-working and highly skilled healthcare professionals.
It is encouraging to see that you have an interest in small business, have supported local women’s health campaigns and are an advocate of the Dementia Friends initiative. You have also spoken publicly about the “great services” pharmacies in your constituency offer to the local community.
However, our own investigations have revealed that the reduced funding implemented by your government has put many of these vital services at risk across the country. Our data has also exposed rising levels of stress among pharmacists since the sector’s funding was cut (we are happy to make these findings available to your office or discuss them in person), with some respondents raising concerns that staffing levels in their pharmacy are now so low they are dangerous.
Your predecessor, Steve Brine MP, wrote to C+D in August 2017 to pledge “fair, realistic and sustainable funding” for the sector, and you now have an opportunity to make this a reality. We only need to look at Scotland and Wales to see the positive impact that sustainable funding and government support can have on both community pharmacy teams and their patients. I hope you will be able to steer the funding negotiations to a similar outcome, empowering pharmacies to deliver minor ailments advice to patients who would otherwise attend over-burdened GP practices.
For further proof of the incredible work carried out in pharmacies across the UK every day, I would like to invite you to attend the C+D Awards on June 6. This event – held at the Intercontinental O2 hotel in London – will showcase the incredible and innovative work being undertaken by pharmacists, pharmacy businesses and pharmacy staff in the name of patient care.
With the support of an engaged and open-minded minister such as yourself, I am optimistic that the government can finally use community pharmacy to its full potential – to the benefit of patients and the wider NHS.