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CCA chief issues stark funding warning to new pharmacy minister


CCA chief issues stark funding warning to new pharmacy minister

By Neil Trainis

The Company Chemists’ Association chief executive Malcolm Harrison has welcomed the pharmacy minister Neil O’Brien into his new role by warning him the government must urgently carry out a review of primary care and ensure community pharmacies are adequately resourced to continue meeting the needs of patients.

The appointment of O’Brien (pictured) yesterday, in which he took over from Will Quince who lasted just 56 days in the role, saw him become the fourth pharmacy minister this year, following in the footsteps of Maria Caulfield, James Morris and Quince.

Harrison offered O’Brien a timely reminder that community pharmacy is “more fragile than ever” and insisted “funding and workforce pressures are simply untenable.” Harrison also reiterated his call for the government to produce workforce plan for the sector. 

“The government must recognise that a real-terms cut in funding across the last eight years is leading to an increasing rate of permanent pharmacy closures. Our own research finds that 41 per cent of permanent closures since 2015 have occurred in the 20% most deprived areas of England,” he said.

“The NHS must endeavour to put patients back in control. As such, a holistic review of primary care is urgently needed. This will ensure that resources are directed to where they deliver the most benefit to patients.

“Such a review must be underpinned by a fully funded and integrated workforce plan, as recommended by the Health and Social Care Committee.”

The PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison said she was looking forward to meeting O'Brien "at the earliest opportunity to continue our vital discussions on the very serious challenges facing the sector."

"We will also want to explore further the very valuable wider role that community pharmacy could play within primary care, with the right funding settlement and support," she said. 

Meanwhile, Dame Barbara Hakin has been appointed the new chair of the CCA, taking over from John Bacon who the organisation said had “successfully” led it through “unprecedented challenges that arose during the Covid pandemic.”

Dame Hakin was a hospital doctor and GP for 20 years and national director of commissioning operations at NHS England before retiring after 41 years working in the NHS. She was the driving force behind the establishment of clinical commissioning groups.


Picture: UK Parliament. This image was cropped. 

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