On Wednesday 11th January during a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament, Jo Churchill MP highlighted the role of local pharmacies and their potential to drive forward integrated healthcare throughout the NHS. However, whilst welcoming the efforts of the Government, Mrs Churchill called on the Minister, David Mowat MP, to consider the implementation of proposals; warning of the potential consequences to pharmacies in her constituency.
Speaking in the debate, Jo Churchill began by highlighting the role of pharmacists in helping to alleviate pressures. Furthermore, she welcomed the Government’s commitment to delivering on the aims of the Five Year Forward View; driving forward a more integrated healthcare system by reshaping the role of local pharmacies.
However, she warned that in light of planned efficiency savings to be made across all pharmacies, “…the last thing my local community wants is my independent pharmacy not being able to survive through these important transitions.”
Crucially, she drew attention to the need for pharmacies to help deliver integrated care services: “Pharmacists are often not used to their full value. Delayed discharge from hospital often comes about because people do not get their meds, and pharmacies in some hospitals are not available throughout the weekends. There could be more joined-up thinking.”
Moreover, Mrs Churchill called for special attention to be paid to community pharmacies including Day Lewis Pharmacy on the Howard Estate. She said:
“…because of its location, [the pharmacy] cannot offer a lot of peripheral things. The local residents are largely mature or on lower incomes, which means that the pharmacy is vital to the community. We also have really poor bus services into town—it would take a young mum or an elderly person nearly an hour and a half to cross town.”
Speaking after the debate, Mrs Churchill outlined her thoughts:
“Located at the heart of our communities and working alongside our local GPs; pharmacies are well situated to help deliver more services within our NHS.
The changes the Government are considering, include reshaping the role of pharmacies to help join-up healthcare services, are in the right direction. However, we need to be sure the whole package of reforms are implemented in a way which maximises the potential of our local pharmacies.
In Bury St Edmunds private providers, such as Superdrug or Boots stores, have a distinct advantage over, for instance, independent deliverer Croasdales. By highlighting the different pharmacy operators. I want to show not only some of the challenges of accessing health services, but the crucial role of community pharmacies and the competition they face from high street providers.
Our independent pharmacies provide us with choice, often with bespoke services aimed towards the needs of local communities. My constituency is an example of the many different types of independent providers; whether rural or urban and with varied clientele and needs. That is why I called on the Government to accommodate these needs which could be jeopardised.
I am a great supporter of a ‘pharmacy-first culture’ in which our pharmacies become a first port of call for minor ailments. However, this is more than just about our wellbeing. This is about the health of our NHS and we need to deliver twenty first century solutions from a twentieth century system.
With our NHS under pressure, local pharmacies can help to deliver a smoother running and a more joined-up healthcare system.”