C+D editor James Waldron wrote an open letter to Mr Brine in July, setting out three priorities for the minister, including “working with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) to produce a funding framework that is fair, realistic and sustainable”.
In his response, posted to C+D on August 31, Mr Brine wrote: “Let me assure you that as we come towards the end of the 2016-18 funding settlement, it is our intention to work with PSNC to produce a fair, realistic and sustainable funding settlement for 2018-19 and beyond.”
It is the first time the new pharmacy minister has referred specifically to the future of funding for community pharmacies in England – drastically cut in December 2016 – since he took on the role in June.
“Community pharmacy is, in many ways, the front line of the NHS, and I am determined to see our reforms bed down and improve the service offered to the public by making far better use of pharmacists’ valuable clinical skills,” Mr Brine continued.
“A can-do sector”
Labelling community pharmacy a “can-do” sector, Mr Brine said he “values enormously the vital service that pharmacies – and pharmacists – provide”.
“As we move forward with our reforms, we see an enhanced role for pharmacists, in which they are more integrated within the wider health system,” Mr Brine wrote.
“We want to encourage more people to use their local pharmacy, with local pharmacists playing a stronger role in keeping people healthy, which in turn reduces the demand on local GPs and hospitals.”
“To date, we have not made use of the tremendous skills and knowledge that pharmacists have as effectively as we might.”
“As you will be aware, we are working on a range of proposals, on which we will consult widely, which aim to rectify this and enable pharmacists to make an even more effective contribution to maintaining the health of the population as part of the primary care workforce.”
“A personal priority”
In response to Mr Waldron’s plea for him to “throw his weight” behind the decriminalisation of inadvertent dispensing errors, Mr Brine said it is “a personal priority for me, and I am resolved to getting it sorted as soon as possible”.
He repeated this decriminalisation pledge in his speech to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society conference on Monday (August 4).
Read Mr Brine’s full letter – including his thanks to C+D for “all you do to maintain the very obvious sense of community” across the sector – here.
Read C+D editor Mr Waldron's reaction to Mr Brine's letter here.