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Pharmacists: Next government should prioritise national services

Al Patel: Contractors need "guaranteed services" from the government

Whoever is in power after the general election should give the sector a "morale boost" by commissioning national minor ailments and weight management services, say pharmacists, including Lee Pharmacy's Al Patel


Pharmacists have declared the commissioning of national services a priority for the next government.

Whoever won the election on Thursday (May 7) should ensure there was greater stability and consistency in pharmacy services, representatives from across community pharmacy told C+D last week.

They lamented the lack of standardisation and stressed that the sector needed a “morale boost”, rather than “always fighting” for services.

Al Patel, owner of Lee Pharmacy in Lewisham, said many contractors felt “on edge” over the future of pharmacy. “I think the majority of contractors are worried about services so [we need] something in terms of guaranteed services,” he told C+D.

“In Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, one pharmacy is doing one service and another isn’t,” Mr Patel added. “There should be standardisation.”

Numark director of marketing Mandeep Mudhar said national services funded with new money had “been on the wish list for a long time”. “Scotland has the minor ailments service and there are pockets of that activity in England, but it’s still very inconsistent,” he told C+D.

“If pharmacy has been successful [at] MURs, why not take that to the next level in terms of minor ailments or a weight management service?” Mr Mudhar argued.

Mark Stone, project pharmacist at Devon LPC, also extolled the benefits of nationally commissioned services. He feared pharmacy services with proven outcomes such as flu vaccination and minor ailments schemes were facing cuts simply due to tight local budgets.

National commissioning would put an end to these services being overlooked, Mr Stone said. But he pointed out there could also be merit in ringfencing local budgets for pharmacy.

“There’s a lot of rhetoric out there about commissioning pharmacy nationally. However, then you lose the local links, so there are risks and benefits to both methods and I don’t think that’s appreciated,” he added.

Last week, the Liberal Democrats pledged to consider commissioning more national pharmacy services.

Read more of C+D’s election coverage.


How could the new government prioritise community pharmacy?

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Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

What does a road digger ask for? Another shovel! What about having ambition, imagination and guts? Why not ask to provide total care for stable asthmatics, diabetes and mentally ill patients? The money is in the long term conditions and undiagnosed public with LTCs. Perhaps, pharmacy is where it belongs. Does pharmacy understand the NHS's massive shopping list? GPs certainly do and will progress more as there is ambition and demand for more from their leaders. My enthusiasm is trully drained after reading this story.

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Hemant is right! Paucity of ambition will deliver paucity of outcome. We can do SO much more. We need to be MUCH bolder and far more ambitious

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