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Editor's View: Fresh pharmacy funding? Vote the Tories out


Editor's View: Fresh pharmacy funding? Vote the Tories out

If anyone in community pharmacy thought Rishi Sunak’s election as prime minister was good news because he worked in his mother’s pharmacy growing up, they have lulled themselves into a false sense of optimism. “But he gets pharmacy,” someone recently told me. I don’t doubt it.

What concerns me is the people Sunak has surrounded himself with as the government tries to contend with a recession the chancellor Jeremy Hunt laughably claimed was “made in Russia.”

Twelve years of economic and political instability, austerity and poor decision-making under the Tories are the driving forces behind this recession. But let’s park that and look specifically at pharmacy. The Tories think there are too many pharmacies in this country. It’s why they froze the sector’s funding in 2019 for five years having slashed it before that. It’s why they are unlikely to increase community pharmacy’s global sum in the near future.

Hunt pledged to bolster the NHS budget by £6.6 billion over the next two years but made no mention of community pharmacy. Let’s face it, he does not get pharmacy. He never has. A few years ago as health secretary, he tried to endear himself to an audience at a pharmacy awards event and failed miserably having said his local pharmacy was great because he could always go to it for a packet of lozenges.

With Steve Barclay, I’d go further. The current health secretary is no friend of community pharmacy. Don’t take my word for it. Look at his track record. He voted for the funding cuts and refused to write off loans that kept heroic pharmacies going during the Covid pandemic.

Sunak has surrounded himself with people who don’t understand community pharmacy and there have been others in positions of influence. Will Quince was removed as pharmacy minister after reportedly expressing an interest in an awful proposal to publish Tariff prices on prescription medicines. And let’s take NHS England: its promise of an independent review of NHS pharmaceutical services feels like a ruse to distract pharmacy.

People say Labour stand an excellent chance of victory in the next general election. They may or may not deliver on their promises.

But, from community pharmacy’s perspective, they’ve got to be better than the Tories.

Neil Trainis is the editor of Independent Community Pharmacist.

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