Richard Bradley, co-owner of Whitworth Chemists, told C+D he “doorstepped” Mr Hancock on his way to a meeting in the House of Commons last month, to explain the plight of community pharmacy.
“I let him know that while I appreciate his [interest in] the French pharmacy model…my issue is that it is expensive,” Mr Bradley, who was in the building to attend a private event in parliament, said.
Mr Hancock exclusively told C+D last year that he wants to see England move towards the French model for pharmacies “where they do more”.
Mr Bradley said his pharmacies are already “doing everything that [Mr Hancock] is demanding pharmacies start to do”, but the current funding model for the sector “disproportionately penalises pharmacies [that] are investing in the future”.
He blamed the government’s “broad brush cuts” to pharmacy funding for the financial strain that contractors are under.
“Lenders are putting us under a lot of pressure at the moment and asking us to look at staff costs, with banks asking: ‘Do we really need all this second pharmacist cover’,” Mr Bradley claimed.
“I put it to [Mr Hancock] that when the services that we’ve been waiting for finally arrive, you’re going to have no pharmacists to do them.”
Mr Hancock seemed “surprised” by this, Mr Bradley claimed.
The health secretary thanked him and said it was “useful and valuable information” that he would “take back”, Mr Bradley added.
Skillset of pharmacy will be “better utilised”
When contacted by C+D to corroborate Mr Bradley’s account, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Our ambition is to help people live better for longer, and through the NHS long-term plan we have set out the approach to see the reach and skillset of pharmacy teams better utilised and further integrated with other parts of the health and care system.
“Our pharmacies are vital to delivering a world class NHS, and the government is committed to working with community pharmacists to help make this a reality,” it added.
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