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Pharmacy minister: 3,000 closures will not happen on Hancock’s ‘watch’

The pharmacy minister said pharmacies won’t close

There will not be mass pharmacy closures under the current government, pharmacy minister Jo Churchill pledged in a parliamentary debate on Monday (July 13).

Backtracking on former pharmacy minister Alistair Burt’s suggestion in 2016 that 3,000 community pharmacies in England could close as a result of government funding cuts, Ms Churchill said these closures “would not happen” on health secretary Matt Hancock’s “watch”.

MPs are “pretty much in agreement about the value of our pharmacies”, she added during the debate, which centered around support and funding for independent pharmacies.

She also praised the sector for being “an integral part of the healthcare system”, and said its role is “more important than ever in the COVID-19 pandemic”.

“The health and social care Secretary and I — indeed, all colleagues in government — are hugely grateful for the unequivocal commitment shown by community pharmacies. I am immensely proud to be the pharmacy minister,” she added.

Funding negotiations

Ms Churchill said that the government has “entered discussions on firm proposals for additional funding” for the sector to cover the extra costs incurred during the pandemic.

“To respond to this crisis, we have a need to reprioritise certain community pharmacy contractual framework services,” she said.

The “immediate challenge” will be to restore services that were planned for 2020-21, where the government can do so and “where it remains the right thing to do”, she added.

Expanded role

Although no new pharmacy services were announced, Ms Churchill said the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) wants to “consider the role of community pharmacists in future vaccination programmes to maximise access”.

“I am keen for community pharmacies to do more in partnership with GPs in their local area, and for them to be as one with their colleagues and treated like other members of the entire NHS family that we value so much,” she added.

Ms Churchill said that pharmacies have “demonstrated how they can increase the uptake of flu vaccinations”.

When it comes to making changes to pharmacies, the government “will continue to build capacity and capability, test new services for potential future commissioning, and focus services on the areas that have the most impact on the population’s health”, she added.

What do you make of Ms Churchill's comments?

Brian Plainer, Locum pharmacist

Oh joy - we can endure our tortured slavery for a few more years - woppeedoo !

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I doubt if anyone is reading this old thread any more but I just want to express my absolute disgust at this quote - 'for them to be as one with their colleagues and treated like other members of the entire NHS family that we value so much' when taken in the context of the 'inflation busting' pay rise announced for GPs and dentists. Where is the pay rise for US?? We are NOT, never have been and never will be considered to be a part of the NHS family. I have said this so many times. We are only in when there are cuts to be made, we are firmly out when there are pay rises made.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Advance funding, not extra funding. In other words business as usual with the platitudes that go with it. Once this is in the rearview mirror so it will be with more pharmacies closing.

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

As the song goes, your loving gives me a thrill, but your loving don't pay my bills, I want money, that's what I want.


Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

Amazing how many platitudes they can come up with when we have been in the firing line throughout the pandemic while everyone else has been hiding away for fear of meeting a patient face to face.  We may well have been invaluable in their eyes during the past few months but just wait until things return to "normal".  People tend to have very short memories1

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

Before we talk about the future,please please can we sort out NEW money for Pharmacies dealing brilliantly with covid?while GP's closed their doors and sent most scipts by eps for us to deal with patients face to face, without any physical patient contact themselves, we also dealt with paper scripts brought to us by surgery staff.As a result,all pharmacies were truly on the front line,unlike GPs.They did not want themselves or their staff  to be exposed to any risk,while we all just got on with it.Staff working so much overtime to ensure supply,while their pals were at no risk watching netflix and getting 80% of their wages!!Is there any surprise that they are now so de-moralised,and feeling they have been taken for granted? New funding would enable pharmacy owners to reward their teams for all they have done.

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

So here we are again.I am really starting to wonder what  the point is of us all posting the truth and facts about our profession on this site.Are we just pandering to our own whims, to no avail?Amongst others,I have criticised the NPA for their silence.Never have I seen a reply-is the Chair too busy patting his own back for visiting members and thanking them for their efforts?The noise is deafening.Whilst it is not incumbent on C&D to fight for us,do they ever suggest to the Pharmacy Minister that she should read our comments in order to get a feeling what is happening on the front line?Have they put our situation to her,or have they just let her use their magazine as a vehicle to give her empty platitudes?Please remember C&D your existence relies on US, not her!!As for the PSNC-no comment.All other devolved countries have got extra funding-are you proud of yourselves?Retail pharmacy is a divided profession.Remember when GP's opposed their new contract?By withdrawing services to a basic minimum they got HMG back to the negotiating table.If  community pharmacy were united and took any such action what would happen?Could they take all our contracts away?I think not. But someone would always not take part,looking at an opportunity to dispense extra scripts!We need to put pressure on HMG,and I believe we need public opinion on our side for this.Surveys are great-but what is the point when they aren't publicised properly.What is the point in telling me we have worked hard-i know,i was there! Maybe the NPA should ask members to contribute to a fighting fund to advertise such findings,and get more people on board?Look.In 25 years of being a pharmacy owner I have always left the politics to others.But enough is enough.Covid and how we as a profession dealt with it deserves recognition and rewards.Are you there Mr Sunak?

Dave Downham, Manager

Well, that's me filled with confidence. 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Pharmacy needs restructuring from the ground up to be modernised these days in my humble opinion. From funding and payment for the business, clinical and technical services provided, dispensing processes, professional guidelines superceding protocol - there is plenty of work to do.

I feel giving platudes are just that. What Pharmacists and Technicians want are not words, they want tangable action. If the government understands the importance of pharmacy then show this through actual funding beyond emergency "plaster" stop-gap measures such as advanced funding.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

This was actually part of an answer to a question, I think, in the House of lords, and is the best bits of it... She is also still sticking to the mantra that we have beeen given 370 million of extra funding and been paid handsomely for the delivery service..

in other words, half (at best) truths and promises... with a huge free dollop of spin

good luck with the GP bit, and it looks like any new money will have to be earned the hard way... 

Oh and given the numbers of Pharmacy closures already anounced since the start of the Burt and Ridge show, plus those that must be teetering, maybe 3000 isnt acceptable or going to happen but 2999? not a problem.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

if that down tick was Jo feel free to ring me...i wont bite, honest!

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