Community pharmacies should get behind the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, the health and social care secretary has urged.

Following a referendum in 2016, the UK is set to leave the European Union (EU) in March 2019, followed by a 21-month transition period provided a deal is reached.

Responding to a question in Parliament on Tuesday (27 November), Matt Hancock said that pharmacies ‘should support’ Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal.


Endorsing the deal


Asked by Labour Party health and social care shadow minister Julie Cooper what steps the Government is taking to guaranty continuous supply of medicines post Brexit, Mr Hancock said: ‘Community pharmacies, like everybody else, should support the Prime Minister’s deal, which will make sure that that eventuality does not occur.’

Earlier this month, Theresa May secured a Brexit deal with the EU. This was followed by the publication of two sets of documents setting out temporary arrangements on the departure of the UK and the future relationship with the EU.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) – alongside other pharmacy organisation including the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Association (RPS) – said that it has been ‘working closely’ with the Government. It hopes this will ensure medicine supply to pharmacies and patients will be maintained in all possible Brexit scenarios, particularly in the event of a no-deal.


Righteous concerns


Writing in PSNC’s November newsletter, chief executive Simon Dukes said:Quite rightly, a lot of community pharmacists and local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) are concerned about Brexit and the impact it will have on patients, communities and of course businesses.

‘From a medicine supply perspective, an agreed deal is essential if we are to reduce the negative impact of a chaotic exit from the EU. We’re doing our utmost to ensure that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is fully aware of the potential ramifications of a no-deal, and moreover the impact that the stockpiling of medicines will have on supply and prices.

‘We have stated clearly to the DHSC that community pharmacies need to have the ability to exercise appropriate professional discretion to ensure the continuity of an alternative equivalent medicine to patients in accordance with patient need.’

Mr Dukes added that it will be vital for pharmacy to be reimbursed expeditiously for any additional costs engendered to ensure patients can access the medicines they need.