Minister thanks pharmacy for maintaining medicines supply
Pharmacy minister Steve Brine MP has thanked community pharmacists for successfully maintaining medicines supply to patients in “exceptional circumstances” during supply problems, speaking in a video address to independent pharmacy delegates at the Sigma conference. “I want to thank you for maintaining medicines supply to patients during this uncertainty,” he said.
“It’s no secret that the past year has been a challenging time for the NHS and community pharmacies,” he commented. “Finance is tight, and we need to make sure that we get the best health benefit from every pound of taxpayers money we spend. That said, I recognise there have been some exceptional circumstances affecting community pharmacy this year, including the recovery of medicine margin over delivery from August at a similar time when some generic medicines increased in price.”
He said he recognised that November’s “unprecedented delay” in announcing concessionary prices caused uncertainty for pharmacy contractors. “However, it was important to understand the position of the market.”
The Government is committed to "ensuring that community pharmacy continues to play and important role in the health of our nation,” said Mr Brine, in an upbeat and positive message, reassuring delegates that he had listened carefully to representations made by the sector since being in post.
“I’ve been keen to do what I can to support you, which is why I’m personally committed to seeing the long-awaited legislation be passed through Parliament to offer pharmacy professionals working in registered pharmacies a defence to sanctions where inadvertent preparation or dispensing errors occur. I’m also committed to ensuring the government consults on these defences being afforded to pharmacy professionals where working outside of registered pharmacies therefore guaranteeing parity across pharmacy professionals. I look forward to seeing how the removal of the fear of prosecution translates into increased learning across the sector and improvements in what I know is already an incredibly professional service.”
There will be further work on medication safety, including the launch of a new initiative, he said, which will focus on prescribing and medication errors. “This programme will build on existing work to develop our understanding on how best to educate and inform patients about their medicines, as well has how we use technology such as electronic prescribing and medicine administration systems.”
“I will continue, I promise you, to continue working with you and building on NHS England’s excellent pilot work looking how best to embed community pharmacies and pharmacists into the wider health service, to deliver a service that really is fit for the future. We will face many challenges in the future, not least our aging population, but I believe it will be an exciting one. One in which technology and new types of medicines and therapy will support us in treating illnesses and keeping people healthy for longer in the
Community pharmacy’s response to flu vaccination this winter has been “invaluable”, said Mr Brine; the increase in the number of Healthy Living Pharmacies a “fantastic achievement”, and the high take-up of the Quality Payment Scheme “really is to be commended”. community. The skills of the community pharmacy team will remain key in helping people to get the most benefit out of both existing and new medicines."
He described community pharmacies as an essential part of primary care and having a “pivotal role as a community and health asset". “Since taking up this job it has become clear to me the passion that pharmacy professionals have for their role in optimising the use of medicines and providing advice and support to their local communities."