Community pharmacy offers solutions to many of the NHS’s ongoing problems, a manifesto championing the sector ahead of next month's general election has said.

The Vote Pharmacy manifesto, published yesterday (18 November), was developed by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

It aims to present a united message to parliamentary candidates that community pharmacy has ‘huge potential’ if it is given ‘the right support and investment’ from the Government.

The manifesto says: ‘We want greater recognition that community pharmacy is a solution to many longstanding problems in the NHS and for the new Government to act decisively to unlock the sector’s huge potential.’


‘Fair’ investment


The manifesto adds that ‘investment in community pharmacy needs to be fair, adequate, secure and sustainable.’

It calls on the next Government to remove prescription charges in England – in line with other parts of the UK – to enable community pharmacy to help vulnerable patients.

In April, the NHS prescription charge rose by 20p to £9 per item in England.

In September, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth pledged to abolish prescription charges if the Labour party is elected at the party’s conference – before the December general election was announced.


Commission more services


As the ‘most accessible’ part of the NHS, community pharmacies should be commissioned to deliver more national services, such as a national smoking cessation service and NHS Health Checks, the manifesto adds.

It calls for an expansion to the range of vaccination services available in pharmacies as well as the commissioning of a national minor ailments service to further improve access to healthcare for all.

The manifesto adds: ‘The role of community pharmacies needs to be expanded so they become neighbourhood health and wellbeing centres.’


‘So much more’ to offer


Community pharmacies can ‘do so much more’ to take pressure off GPs and hospitals if they have ‘full access’ to patient records and can save money for the NHS by tackling medicines waste, the manifesto says.

They can also manage patients with long-term conditions and ‘play a leading role’ in identifying people with undiagnosed conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, it adds.

The NPA, RPS and PSNC said: ‘The upcoming general election presents an opportunity for the sector to be recognised by future MPs as a valuable health and wellbeing asset and a solution to many longstanding problems in the NHS.’

They added that they will promote the manifesto to political parties during the election campaign, as well as calling on candidates to show support to community pharmacy by visiting and pledging to back their local pharmacies.

The Vote Pharmacy website provides further resources and advice for pharmacy teams on how to promote pharmacy to their local parliamentary candidates.