Many pharmacies are under “immense pressures” that are forcing them to cut their services and staff, Jonathan Ashworth told C+D at the Labour party conference last month (September 23).
Mr Ashworth is aware pharmacies in his Leicester constituency are “cutting back free delivery services” and staff hours “because of the pressures they are under”, he said.
“If you want to resolve the crisis in the NHS, part of it is to do with general practice, but it’s also about ensuring community pharmacies have a key role to play in our local community,” he said.
Mr Ashworth said he understands community pharmacies need support, which is why he was “so forthright in opposing" the funding cuts in England.
Extending mental health support to pharmacists
Asked whether he would consider extending the current NHS mental health support scheme available to NHS doctors to community pharmacists, Mr Ashworth referred to the 2018 BBC investigation into staff pressures at Boots.
“That did bring home quite powerfully the immense pressures that many pharmacies are under and it’s because this is a sector which needs more support and we are prepared to give it that support.
“I am a big supporter of community pharmacy,” he added.
Last week, Mr Ashworth told C+D that he believes his party’s pledge to scrap prescription charges “is a fairness intervention” and he often hears from pharmacists that there is “increasing confusion" by patients around prescription fee exemptions.