Pharmacists in Wales have been left “extremely disappointed” after a bill that would have introduced compulsory pharmaceutical needs assessments (PNAs) was torn up by politicians.
The Public Health (Wales) Bill was rejected following an ill-tempered spat between members of the ruling Labour party and Plaid Cymru in the Welsh Assembly.
Before a vote on the bill, Labour assembly member Leighton Andrews likened Plaid Cymru’s support of Labour on a separate matter to a “cheap date”.
His words prompted anger from Plaid Cymru assembly member and shadow health minister Elin Jones. Mr Andrews’ comments put the Public Health Bill “in jeopardy”, she said.
“To have that cross-party compromise thrown back in my face was not expected and could not be tolerated,” she said.
Plaid Cymru voted against the bill, and it was ultimately defeated when Labour assembly member Rosemary Butler cast the deciding vote.
The Labour bill would have introduced compulsory PNAs in Wales.
But it also included an effective ban on e-cigarettes in Wales, which Ms Jones cited as the “wider context” as to why Plaid Cymru rejected it.
Health minister Mark Drakeford said the shooting down of the bill had “put to waste five years of careful preparation and constructive work”. He predicted that there would be “widespread anger” against opposition parties who had rejected it, and warned that they “must answer for their conduct”.
Mayberry Pharmacy owner Paul Mayberry told C+D the decision was “shocking”. Some contractors had spent many hours responding to consultations on the bill, and its rejection meant that their work has been “wasted”.
Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) chief executive Russell Goodway told C+D that the rejection of the bill was surprising, especially given the “enormous” amount of effort that has gone into the consultation.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales said politicians had not made public health needs a priority.
It urged assembly members to give “serious consideration” to introducing PNAs after the Welsh elections in May.
Sion Llewelyn, pharmacy manager of Rowlands in Bala, North Wales, said introducing compulsory PNAs in Wales would be beneficial because “one size doesn’t fit all”. It is “better to target your resources wherever there is greater need”, he added.