Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told community pharmacy contractor Nitin Lakhani and National Pharmacy Association (NPA) Chief Executive Mark Lyonette that fixing primary care was one of Labour’s top priorities, on a visit to Mr Lakhani’s pharmacy.
Mr Streeting visited Jaysons Pharmacy in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, with Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the local constituency of Erewash, Adam Thompson on Saturday.
He spoke to Mr Lyonette and Mr Lakhani about the challenges facing community pharmacy, as well as the role they could play in prevention and dealing with common ailments.
In a video filmed at the pharmacy, he said: ‘Most people still think that pharmacies are a place to get medicines you’ve been prescribed and maybe pick up some shampoo and some other products while you’re here.
‘And that’s important work, but pharmacies are capable of doing so much more.
‘These are highly trained, highly skilled, professional people, who could actually help to do a wider range of functions: from effective prevention and advice on things like weight management and keeping people well in the first place, as well as a whole range of illnesses and ailments that people struggling to see a GP might get treated and seen to more quickly in pharmacy.
‘For me, fixing the front door to the NHS is one of Labour’s top priorities, and I want to work with community pharmacies across the country to see what more you can do to help millions of patients across the country who are desperate to be seen.’
He added that he was ‘looking forward to keeping the conversation going’, and asked community pharmacists to share their ideas with him, as well as their frustrations and barriers that they are facing.
He told pharmacy teams: ‘We’re going to need you’.
Mr Lakhani said: ‘We were delighted to welcome our visitors. I was proud to show them around our pharmacy and tell them about the vital work our team does every day to keep people well in this community.’
Mr Lyonette said that it was ‘important’ for politicians to spend time ‘at the coalface’, saying that this could help them ‘get a real taste of the day-to-day challenges’.
‘Wes listened carefully to what Nitin and I had to say, and seems to understand that pharmacies are a key part of the NHS frontline, not just a sideshow,’ he added.