Most regrettably, community pharmacies are under threat because the government is proposing to reduce NHS funding and change the policy framework. If those proposals go through, many of the services currently offered by community pharmacies will be at risk.
Along with many other MPs, I shall continue to oppose those proposals. Apart from anything else, the government’s position is contradictory. Because of ill-advised actions by this government, many GPs have simply voted with their feet and left the profession. In desperation, the government now wants pharmacies to take up some of the work traditionally done by GPs. That might be understandable, except simultaneously the government is proposing to cut support for community pharmacies. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing … ?!
As part of the campaign to oppose the cuts to pharmacy, I recently had the great pleasure of spending a morning at the Upper Green Pharmacy in Tettenhall (see pictures). There I met the impressive community pharmacy team, led by pharmacist Graham Case. It was a delight to see a local business where considerable investment had been made. I was aware of some of the things which community pharmacies do, but it was only when I spoke to Graham and his colleagues that I realised the breadth of caring services which they provide.
In short, community pharmacies are places to get much, much more than medicines. They provide a wide array of services which contribute to the health and wellbeing of their local community – as the Upper Green Pharmacy does, where the welcoming staff are very experienced and highly-trained (and seem to know a large number of their patients personally!). They offer free advice, recommendations, referrals, and reassurance, providing a range of NHS services. This helps to ensure that people can get face-to-face healthcare advice without an appointment – all tailored to the needs of their local community.