Health secretary Matt Hancock has said he wants to ‘do a deal’ with pharmacies to deliver more NHS services in exchange for payment.

Yesterday (7 September), Mr Hancock made a debut appearance on LBC's new phone-in Call The Cabinet - where he answered questions from listeners, live on national radio.

The host, Nick Ferrari, asked Mr Hancock whether he will be asking the chancellor Rishi Sunak to invest more money in community pharmacy.

Mr Hancock confirmed that he wanted to ‘drive more money into pharmacy’ while the NHS budget is ‘going up’, but also said he wanted to ‘do a deal with pharmacies where we offer more NHS services to be delivered in pharmacies and we [the Government] pay for them for it’.

Some pharmacists took to Twitter to express doubt over the health secretary’s recent claim.

This comes after a new study, published by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), revealed that almost three-quarters of independent pharmacies in England could be forced to close by 2024 if current contractual arrangements regarding funding remain unchanged.

The analysis found the sector was underfunded by £497m – with 72% of pharmacies forecast to be loss-making within four years. It estimated that the average pharmacy will be losing £43k a year by 2024.

Last month, The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) wrote to the Government requesting an urgent uplift to the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) funding.

‘We now believe funding must be uplifted to keep pace with developments,’ the briefing said.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, while many other areas of the health service worked behind closed doors, pharmacy teams picked up additional primary care work that does not fall within the remit of the CPCF and therefore were not reimbursed for, PSNC said.

In August, PSNC also advised contractors to either not carry out these services or charge patients for them, as this work is not funded via the CPCF