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MP: NHS long-term plan doesn't recognise pharmacists' full potential

Ms Cooper predicted that the £20.5bn funding for the NHS "will just seep away into deficits"
Ms Cooper predicted that the £20.5bn funding for the NHS "will just seep away into deficits"

A Labour MP has criticised the NHS long-term plan for not recognising pharmacists’ contribution to the future of the health service.

Julie Cooper, Labour MP for Burnley, told C+D it is “frustrating” that “there’s so much promise and potential” for community pharmacists, but NHS England's long-term plan “doesn’t allude to very much in terms of [their] contribution”.

In its long-awaited plan, the commissioning body pledged to work with community pharmacists to test patients for “high-risk conditions” – such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol and atrial fibrillation – and to offer medicines reviews and inhaler advice to patients with respiratory disease.

NHS England also made six references to “clinical” pharmacists in its strategy – hailing them as “a key part of the general practice team in primary care networks”. 

Speaking to C+D at an all-party pharmacy group (APPG) meeting on how the sector can help deliver the plan last week (January 15), Ms Cooper said: “I’m interested and pleased about the bigger share of funding for primary care…and pharmacists are at the heart of that.” 

However, the £20.5 billion funding allocated for the NHS over the next five years – announced by Prime Minister Theresa May last June – is a “red herring”, Ms Cooper added.

“My view is that [funding] will just seep away into deficits, mainly. It’s not going to be ring-fenced,” she added.

“Missing the point”

While NHS England has pledged to “create a service fit for the future”, it is “missing the point” by not investing in community pharmacy, Ms Cooper said.

Community pharmacy's role in prevention, and promoting wellbeing, can help the NHS “save resources”, she explained.

This would also mean “for many people who are very ill and have complex needs, they have access to a local person in a timely fashion”, Ms Cooper told C+D.

What do you make of the NHS long-term plan?

How High?, Community pharmacist

Not much.

We're at the same crossroads as were at in 1995 when PIANA was as all the rage. Either the lights have broken at the junction or the engine siezed but I know for a fact we haven't moved in 30 years........

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

Community sector is simply not sustainable and viable anymore. With all these funding cuts and pressure from both patients and management you will see an exodus of pharmacists from the sector in near future 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It's a clear push in my humble opinion towards less dispensaries around the UK. Pharmacy is being Amazonified for sake of a buzz word.

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