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APPG vice-chair on Lloyds closures: 'Rationalisation may be needed'

Steve Double (right) and contractor Nick Kaye (left) at PSNC's winter pressure event last week (Credit: PSNC)
Steve Double (right) and contractor Nick Kaye (left) at PSNC's winter pressure event last week (Credit: PSNC)

"Rationalisation" of pharmacies could be necessary in areas where there is an "over supply", all-party pharmacy group (APPG) vice chair Steve Double has told C+D.

Commenting on Celesio UK's decision to close or sell 190 Lloydspharmacies across England, Mr Double – the Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay – said he would “reserve judgement” until he knows the location of the closures.

“If they are the only pharmacy in a community, I would be very concerned about that. If there are three or four in one setting, that rationalisation is needed," Mr Double told C+D in an exclusive interview last week (November 21).

Mr Double became APPG vice-chair in June, and stressed he is keen to play "a more active role" in supporting pharmacists.

Pharmacists' roles are restricted

Referring specifically to his Cornish constituency, Mr Double told C+D that one of the things that concerns him is that pharmacy “isn’t having an important role in [the] clinical commissioning group (CCG)”, which he described as “an omission”.

“It would be really good to have them there as they have a lot to offer,” he said. “Too often pharmacists’ roles are very much restricted.”

The government “needs to take more of a lead in terms of the role of pharmacists” and “not let GPs dominate that sphere”, he said.

“Most underused resource in the NHS”

Mr Double stressed that pharmacists are “one of the most underused resources in the NHS” and deliver “incredible value for money, compared to primary and acute care”.

“We need to look at the most efficient way of delivering services – if you shifted resources from one to the other you would release pressure on acute care,” Mr Double said.

“Sometimes we are guilty of being stuck in the current tramlines of how the NHS operates,” he added. “Part of it is an education process – getting the public to think of pharmacists as part of the NHS.”

Essential role in deliveries

Commenting on Lloydspharmacy's decision to charge new patients for deliveries, Mr Double said community pharmacies play an “essential” role in delivering to older patients who live on their own.

“The visit from the pharmacist can be important in terms of just checking on them,” he said. “I don’t think this part of the service gets valued highly enough.”

Have you invited your local MP to your pharmacy?

Martin Roberts, Pharmacy technician

Mr Double or Mr Doublethink?

Rubicon Mango, Academic pharmacist

Think the better term would be 'nationalised'.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

I have some questions for Mr Double:

1. He is reserving judgement on Celesio's decision to close or sell 190 pharmacies. His reserved judgement is based on what? If it affects his voters or not?

2. Mr Double would be concerned if the only pharmacy in a community is about to close - and so he should for it would show that the contract is not viable. What will he do about it?

3. He stresses we are the most underused resource in the NHS and we provide incredible value for money - If so, why are services being decommissioned - or not commissioned in the first place? What is he doing to reverse this trend?

4. Pharmacies play an essential role in delivery of medicines to older/vulnerable patients - if this is "essential" why have we not been paid to provide it?

I am getting fed up with politicians saying we are a great resource, underused etc etc and doing NOTHING about it!

If they genuinely believe it, get up and do something about it! Otherwise, save your empty platitudes for your friends in the House of Commons

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