Matt Hancock's appointment as health secretary is an 'opportunity that [pharmacy] can't afford to miss', the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said.

Mr Hancock – formerly the digital, culture, media and sport secretary – replaced Jeremy Hunt in the role yesterday (9 July) when he took on the foreign secretary vacancy following Boris Johnson's resignation.

An NPA spokesperson told The Pharmacist: 'New people bring new possibilities. Mr Hancock’s appointment presents an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.'

The organisation has already written to the new health secretary to 'congratulate him on his new role and highlight the many benefits of a vibrant community pharmacy sector', it said.

The spokesperson continued: 'Jeremy Hunt was the longest serving health secretary and his legacy will be felt for some time to come.

'What happens in the future as a result of the long term NHS plan will also be significant in shaping how history sees his period in office.

'Matt Hancock will have to grapple with many of the same challenges faced by his predecessor, to which community pharmacy offers compelling solutions - including getting to grips with the prevention and management of long term conditions.'

The NPA's comments mirrored those of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), which has also written to the new minster, it said.

RPS English Board chair Sandra Gidley: 'This is a crucial time for the health service and we look forward to working with Matthew Hancock, his Department and NHS England as they move forward on developing a long-term plan for the NHS.

‘We know that the NHS needs to make the most of the whole of the health and care workforce, whether that is supporting the growing numbers of people living with a long-term condition, or helping achieve the ambition of 21,000 more mental health professionals in the NHS by 2021.

‘We will be writing to the new health secretary, offering him help in getting up to speed with what the third largest health profession can deliver for patients.’