Conservative MP Steve Double has called for a debate in parliament about the value of community pharmacy and how it can be funded.

The St Austell and Newquay MP explained to The Pharmacist that if secured, the debate would ‘highlight the excellent work of community pharmacies in Cornwall and beyond and the importance of continued government funding and support for them’.

He first called for the Westminster Hall discussion in a tweet yesterday, which followed his meeting in parliament with local community pharmacists in Cornwall.

Mr Double said that he was pleased to ‘discuss the vital role that community pharmacists play in supporting our NHS and alleviating pressures on GP surgeries and hospitals’ in the meeting.

Also in attendance at the meeting were Nick Kaye, chief officer of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LPC, Drew Creek, operations manager at the LPC, Rosie McDermott, regional manager in the South West of Day Lewis Pharmacy and George Foote, public affairs and policy manager of PSNC.

Mr Double added: ‘It was especially helpful to get an update on the rollout of the walk-in ‘pharmacy first’ consultation service, which has enabled over 5,500 consultations in Cornwall in the past year, saving our NHS 4,000 GP appointments and 70 A&E visits.’

The walk-in service in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LPC began in January 2022 and allows patients to have a face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist without needing to book an appointment. The pharmacy is then paid a £14 fee by the LPC for this consultation – the same fee that they would receive under the GP referral pathway of the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).

A similar service operates in Scotland as Pharmacy First and in Wales as the Common Ailments Service.

In May 2022 the then pharmacy minister Maria Caufield said that the government was actively ‘working on’ creating a national pharmacy minor ailments service in England, but the scheme was not part of the most recent Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) published in September.

On the same day that the CPCF was published, health minister Dr Therese Coffey outlined plans to free up pressure on GPs, including for pharmacists to take on more clinical services.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of PSNC, said at the time that without extra funding, there was a ‘real question mark’ over whether community pharmacies would be able to deliver this vision.