Matt Hancock has said he wants to ‘trust and empower’ community pharmacists to provide more clinical services in an address to the sector today (20 June).

The health secretary called for further integration of pharmacists into primary and community health in an address to delegates via video at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference in Manchester.

He said: ‘I want us to trust and empower community pharmacists to provide more urgent care services like they do in France.

‘Community pharmacists are a vital part of the NHS team and what you are doing and what you are going to be doing is ever more important to the NHS and to the country in the years to come.’

He added: ‘I want pharmacists to be seen as a core part of the prevention agenda because we all know that prevention is better than cure and early diagnosis.

‘Spotting problems, knowing your patients and being able to have that long-standing relationship – these are all things that pharmacists do day-to-day and they are absolutely at the centre of my vision for the future of the NHS as embedded in the Long-Term Plan.’

The NHS needs to make better use of community pharmacists’ ‘unique relationship’ with the communities they serve as well as their ‘experience and expertise’, Mr Hancock said.

He recognised the ‘incredible role’ contractors play ‘day-to-day’ in prevention and called for them ‘to be seen as a core part of the prevention agenda’.