Sue has today received a reply to her letter to the Prime Minister, following her question at Prime Minister’s Question Time last month.
Sue’s original question to the Prime Minister was:
“More than 2,000 people have signed a petition, started by Allisons Chemist in Cockermouth in my constituency, calling on the Government not to cut the funding of community pharmacists. Given the major reports last week regarding the actions of Boots, which now faces investigation by the regulator, is it not time that the Prime Minister and his Government supported independent pharmacists, such as Allisons, which are a vital lifeline for our community and help to keep our high streets alive?”
To which the Prime Minister replied:
“We are supporting rural pharmacies —there is a specific scheme to help there—but in the last five years there has been a massive increase in pharmacy spending. As we make sure that as much of the NHS’s resources as possible go to the frontline—the doctors and nurses, the operations and the A&E we want—we have to make sure we are getting value for money in pharmacy, while also protecting the rural pharmacies the hon. Lady speaks about.”
Consequently, Sue attempted to find out the specifics of this scheme to help rural pharmacies, but was unable to find anything. A number of people from the pharmacy sector got in touch to inform Sue that there is no such scheme currently in existence, although the government said that it would consult on a scheme to maintain access to pharmacies in rural areas.
Sue also explained was asking specifically about independently-run pharmacies, not necessarily rural pharmacies, so wanted clarification on support for the independent sector, in order to inform her constituents appropriately.
In his letter, the Prime Minister wrote:
“I consider independently run and community pharmacies to be an absolutely vital part of the frontline NHS. The consultation I referred to in my answer was Community Pharmacy in 2016/17 and beyond. I know that we agree on the importance of equipping community pharmacies for the future to ensure we have a modern, efficient sector that can offer more patient choice and easier access.”
In response to the Prime Minister’s letter, Sue said:
“I’m glad that the Prime Minister recognises the crucial role that community pharmacies play in our towns and villages in West Cumbria. Hundreds of thousands of people nationally have signed petitions asking the Government to support community pharmacies, and I hope this is taken into account in the consultation.
“Pharmacies can take the pressure off struggling healthcare services in hospitals and GPs’ surgeries, and they’re a trusted part of community life in my constituency. I want to work with the Government to make sure that small independent pharmacies get the support they need to continue to thrive and to continue to provide their customers with excellent service.”