The health secretary Matt Hancock bluntly told MPs that community pharmacies should back Theresa May’s Brexit deal because it will ensure that the supply of medicines to patients is unhindered once the UK leaves the European Union.
Labour MP Julie Cooper, who ran a pharmacy with her husband in Burnley for 24 years, warned the House of Commons that medical supplies to pharmacies could be delayed or not materialise at all post-Brexit, with a no-deal scenario remaining a possibility.
The Prime Minister faces an uphill battle to sell her Brexit deal to the UK parliament.
“The NHS Confederation has warned that, following Brexit, the supply of some medicines and medical technologies may be delayed in reaching patients, and some may not be available at all,” Cooper said.
“The chief executive officer of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has been clear that we cannot stockpile the amounts we are going to need because we do not have sufficient cold warehouse storage.
“The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is worried therefore that diabetics will not be able to access insulin. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that community pharmacies are able to supply vital medical supplies post Brexit, particularly in the event of no deal?”
Responding to Cooper, Hancock said: “Community pharmacies, like everybody else, should support the Prime Minister’s deal, which will make sure that that eventuality does not occur.”
The health minister Steve Brine was also forced to defend government recommendations that over-the-counter treatments for head lice should not be prescribed by GPs.
Earlier this year NHS England recommended what it described as 35 “minor conditions” for which over-the-counter treatments should not be prescribed.
Denying that the decision had sparked a head lice epidemic in England, Brine said: “I have been itching all morning while thinking about this answer. I do not believe there is an epidemic because of NHS England’s actions.
“Clinical experts in the NHS advise that head lice can be safely and effectively treated by wet combing. I have very recent personal experience of doing this, as I am sure do many parents in this House. Chemical treatment is recommended only in exceptional circumstances.”
Picture: Drazen_ (iStock)