Health Minister Lord Markham appeared to promise more funding for community pharmacies taking on more services, in a statement to the House of Lords on Tuesday.

But Janet Morrison, the chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), has warned that the current levels of core funding are ‘inadequate’, and pharmacies should be paid for the interactions they have with patients.

Lord Markham called community pharmacies ‘a crucial part of the front line’, in response to a comment from Lord Grade who referred to ‘a very serious crisis in the independent pharmacy sector’ and said ‘something needs to be done before they all close’.

Lord Markham responded that ‘the plan of using them more for patients will put more funding their way, which I hope will support them, just as allocating Covid vaccinations to many pharmacies provided support.’

‘Lord Markham appears to promise additional funding linked to services and this is absolutely critical, along with other help,’ commented Ms Morrison.

‘At the moment, more patient interactions does not mean more money for pharmacies and that needs correcting urgently.

‘In order for pharmacy to do more, Government must help us to tackle some fundamental problems: workforce, capacity, and our inadequate core funding levels,’ she added.

On Monday, Health Secretary Steve Barclay called on pharmacists to ‘do even more’ to help ease pressure on general practice.

Pharmacy leaders responded with calls for the government to fund a Pharmacy First service in England which would see pharmacists paid to deliver walk-in clinical consultations.

A similar service in Cornwall reportedly saves 400 GP appointments a month.

In November, Mr Barclay said that he was looking at progressing plans for the service, but Janet Morrison, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) told The Pharmacist that the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) had been unable to commit to the £350-£400m funding package needed for the scheme.

‘We remain ready to start negotiations on this as soon as they want to,’ she said following Mr Barclay’s speech on Monday.

Earlier this week, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) suggested that community pharmacy is experiencing an annual shortfall in funding of over £750m, or £67,000 per pharmacy, when the current flat funding deal was compared to what community pharmacy would receive if it had been adjusted in line with inflation.

Malcom Harrison, chief executive of the CCA, said that this was ‘money that could be invested in frontline pharmacy staff allowing pharmacists to provide even more vital patient-facing care for the NHS’.