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Sigma conference: Streeting sets out Labour’s ambition for pharmacy

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Sigma conference: Streeting sets out Labour’s ambition for pharmacy

While the Labour Party nationally is still reluctant to provide policy detail with just months to go to a general election, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has spelt out the “ambition for pharmacy” of a future Labour Government (reports Rob Darracott).

In a pre-recorded video address to the Sigma Conference on Wednesday, Mr Streeting appeared well-briefed on the sector, referencing the need to make proper use of its experience, pharmacy’s feeling of being undervalued, a thousand permanent closures disproportionately affecting communities that need them most and reduced hours, services and staff elsewhere as a result of the financial squeeze.

“This is the opposite direction to the one we need pharmacy to be going in,” he said. Referencing his “reform or die” agenda for the NHS, the Ilford MP said: “While most parts of the NHS are overwhelmed with demand, red tape is holding pharmacists back. While patients are waiting months for treatment, often finding it impossible to get a GP appointment, it is unacceptable that the pharmacy has been allowed to decline.

“Community pharmacies are critical to our mission to make the NHS fit for the future. You should be playing a much more significant role. Labour’s reform agenda will get pharmacists working to the top of their licence. We want community pharmacists to play a greater role in healthcare, with more focus on their expertise in prescribing and medicines management.

“Pharmacists should be put to use to help manage long-term conditions like hypertension and COPD and we will put them to work in tackling the serious issue of over-prescribing responsible for thousands of avoidable hospital admissions each year,” he said.

Mr Streeting said the UK was top of the charts for hospital spending, but bottom when it comes to primary care. “I am determined to change that, so the NHS catches illness earlier and treats it faster,” he said.

“We need the NHS to become a neighbourhood health service as much as it is a national health service, with more care in the community, closer to people’s homes. For most people in Britain, community pharmacy is the part of the NHS that is closest to you. The success of your businesses is absolutely crucial to building the healthier Britain we want to see.”

“Labour will also put pharmacies at the forefront of the rapid innovation in life sciences; we will make it easy to run clinical trials in the community and to recruit candidates, so pharmacies will play a big part in developing the medicines and treatments of the future. That’s the ambition Labour has for our community pharmacy,” he said.

“That is how we will get our NHS back on its feet and make it fit for the future. I will be counting on all of you to play your part if we are to succeed.”


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