The chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Pharmacy, Taiwo Owatemi MP, has said that she shares the serious concerns raised by pharmacy representatives about the funding crisis facing the sector.

Last month, leaders from across the pharmacy sector joined forces to write to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to ask him to address pharmacy’s funding crisis.

The letter to Steve Barclay, dated 16 December 2022, said that with investment, community pharmacy could deliver cost-effective solutions for patients and the NHS, but funding cuts have put the sector at risk.

In it, sector leaders asked the Health Secretary to meet to discuss what is needed for pharmacy to continue to deliver core services for patients, ‘and if we are properly resourced, move quickly to help support the NHS more widely’.

Ms Owatemi said that as a cancer pharmacist and chair of the Pharmacy APPG, she shared the ‘serious concerns’ expressed in the letter.

In a Twitter thread shared today, she said that she hoped that the Health Secretary would agree to meet with sector leaders to urgently discuss their concerns, and said that she would ‘continue to campaign with them for the recognition and funding that pharmacy deserves’.

‘Over the last seven years alone, there has been a 30% real terms cut in funding for pharmacy. Many pharmacies are now operating at a loss, and if action is not taken, could close for good,’ she said.

She added that this was having ‘a real impact on the services available to patients and could put medicine supply at risk for millions of people who rely on dispensed prescriptions.’

She continued: ‘If resourced properly, pharmacies can play a vital role in our health service.

‘Pharmacies can help to alleviate pressure on GP surgeries and A&E departments, as well as providing a wide range of health services to people in the community.’

In an interview with The Pharmacist last year, Ms Owatemi said that there was ‘generally a willingness to listen and to develop pharmacy’ within parliament, but that many politicians do not really understand what community pharmacies can do.

She said that that when engaging with other politicians, she tries to ensure they ‘actually understand pharmacy beyond dispensing’, as well as ‘understand some of the barriers that are preventing pharmacists from being able to achieve that clinical vision that everybody wants’.

She also outlined some of the changes she wanted to see to enable pharmacists to play a more clinical role in patient care, such as clarifying the debate around supervision, shortening the review times for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework, and giving pharmacists access to read and write patient notes.