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.”