Shadow health minister: ‘I continue to fight to protect community pharmacy’

Julie Cooper (centre), new Labour shadow health minister

Following the election result on 9 June 2017 that saw health minister, David Mowat, lose his seat, the new shadow health minister, Julie Cooper, has spoken to The Pharmaceutical Journal about how she and her team are now more determined than ever to challenge the cuts to community pharmacy.

The government announced £170m cuts to the annual pharmacy budget in October 2016, threatening the closure of thousands of pharmacies across England. This policy was unsuccessfully challenged in a judicial review by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and the National Pharmacy Association.

“The fact that the Conservative Party will now rule with a minority government makes it far easier for the shadow health team to challenge the cuts to community pharmacy and the flawed STPs [sustainability and transformation plans] and you can be sure my colleagues and I will take every opportunity to do so,” says Cooper.

Despite not yet knowing who will replace David Mowat, Cooper, who is MP for Burnley and Padiham, says she will continue to honour her commitment to halt the cuts to the community pharmacy contractual funding.

“I fully appreciate the value of community pharmacies and my very strong view is that rather than cutting budgets and risking closure, we should work with the professional bodies to further develop the role of community pharmacy within the primary care sector.

“I believe that supporting community pharmacies to further extend the range of services will lead to a more efficient service that both delivers savings, relieves pressure on the wider NHS and, most importantly, improves the patient experience,” she adds.

The general election also resulted in the departure of Conservative MP and vice chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, Oliver Colvile. The group will be reconstituted once the new parliament meets, and it will be up to members of the group to appoint Colvile’s replacement.

In a statement published following the election result, Ian Strachan, chairman of the National Pharmacy Association, urged the new government to “make good” on their promises to local pharmacies.

“We look forward to working constructively with the new team in the Department of Health, to turn these promises into a reality that benefits patients across the country. This election was not just about Brexit, it was also about public services such as the NHS, of which your local pharmacy is the frontline.”

Now that all cabinet posts have been confirmed, talks on the appointment of junior ministers are now underway. However, the Department of Health was unable to confirm when Mowat’s replacement will be announced.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, June 2017;():DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202976

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