The All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) has not received "a single reply" to its letter urging MPs to call for pharmacy flu services in their constituencies, C+D has learned.
APPG vice-chair Oliver Colvile MP admitted he "frankly, didn't expect very much to come back" from the letter, which the group sent to backbench MPs in every party last month. Along with the letter, the APPG enclosed a voucher from NHS England entitling each MP and their staff to a free NHS flu jab from any participating pharmacy in London.
Sending out the letter so close to flu season meant many MPs may have already had their jab, Mr Colvile told C+D on Wednesday (December 17). Both MPs and their pharmacist constituents still had a role to play in raising political awareness of the sector, he said.
“I suspect other members of parliament don’t go to their pharmacists, and I’m not sure pharmacists are particularly brilliant at engaging with their local MPs,” he said.
GPs opposing pharmacy flu services
Mr Colvile said he would call on the government to encourage clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to make greater use of pharmacies, but he recognised that some GPs opposed this idea. It did not make sense for GPs to claim they were “overworked” while also complaining that pharmacists threatened their livelihood, Mr Colvile said.
“I went to see a GP in my constituency on Friday and he said the problem with [pharmacy flu services] is that [GPs] will lose out because they will lose some work to the pharmacist. Well, they can’t have it both ways,” he told C+D.
The APPG's letter highlighted a flu service delivered by LPC consortium Pharmacy London this winter as an example that could be replicated across the country.
The initiative followed a "packed meeting" hosted by the APPG in parliament in October to explore the success of the London scheme, it said last month. In the meeting, the APPG told MPs that more than 75,000 people had received their jab at a London pharmacy, but only a few areas in the rest of the country offered a similar service.