Pharmacies bodies have called on the new health secretary, Sajid Javid, to make better use of the pharmacy sector, by using their clinical skills and injecting more money so pharmacies can help manage demands on the NHS.

Mr Javid was appointed as health secretary on Saturday after Matt Hancock quit the role, having breached social distancing rules, which was exposed by the Sun last week.

Mr Javid, who resigned as chancellor last year, has returned to lead the Covid-19 response and the NHS and social care reform.

In a letter to the health secretary, Thorrun Govind — recently appointed chair of the English Pharmacy Board at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) — welcomed Mr Javid, and urged him to support ‘better integration across care settings,’ as well as make ‘greater use of pharmacists’ clinical skills,’ so to ‘help manage demands on the health service'.

She added: ‘With continued pressures on the NHS, we would welcome a meeting with you on how pharmacists can contribute even more to improving care as well as supporting capacity developments across the healthcare system for the benefit of patients and the NHS.’

In September, Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, predicted a more ‘clinical future’ for community pharmacy post-Covid-19.

Andrew Lane, chair of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), welcomed Mr Javid’s appointment, but called for more funding to support the sector's work.

‘We look forward to working with the new health secretary, to put community pharmacy on a more sustainable footing, to get the country through the pandemic and help the NHS catch up its care backlog.

‘He and Pharmacy Minister Jo Churchill can rely on community pharmacy continuing to give it’s all, but the resources must be put in place to underpin our vital work at the heart of the NHS.’

Reflecting on Mr Hanock’s term, Mr Lane added: ‘The NPA worked hard to create a shared understanding of independent community pharmacy with Matt Hancock and met him several times for frank discussions about primary care reform and pharmacy funding.

‘He adopted the NPA’s description of community pharmacy as the front door to health and showed genuine enthusiasm when visiting our members. We frequently reminded him, though, that the current level of NHS investment is not enough to unlock our sector’s potential.’

Simon Dukes, the chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said that the negotiating body ‘looks forward’ to working with the new health secretary, ‘to build on the outstanding performance of the community pharmacy sector over the past 18 months.’

‘Only by working collaboratively will we be able to continue to develop community pharmacy services for the benefit of patients, the NHS and primary care in England,’ he added.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive officer of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), told the Pharmacist that she wanted to see the Government ‘investing in pharmacies to promote disease prevention, improve health education and healthcare provision for all’.

‘We need to become more integrated in the system; we must be used more. We’re ready to help and look forward to working with the new health secretary Sajid Javid to this effect,’ she commented.

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