The new pharmacy minister has been briefed on a range of ‘critical topics’ within the sector, including Pharmacy First, funding, pressures and digital interfaces.

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) chief executive Janet Morrison met with Dame Andrea Leadsom – who was recently appointed the parliamentary under secretary of state with responsibility for primary care – this week.

The minister was told of the sector’s ‘enthusiasm’ for the incoming Pharmacy First scheme in England, as well as the ‘operational challenges’ for the common conditions service due to be launched early next year, said CPE.

According to the negotiator, Dame Andrea was ‘positive about Pharmacy First and it’s potential’.

In addition, Dame Andrea was also warned about the ‘immense financial pressures’ on community pharmacies and ‘the need for an improved core contract’.

CPE said its chief executive flagged concerns over pharmacy closures and the risks around ‘the safety of medicine supply and loss of service for communities in the most deprived areas’.

Meanwhile, the negotiator and the minister also discussed ‘the future’ of the sector, including a recently produced ‘vision’ for community pharmacy and ‘the potential to build on the success of Pharmacy First in the future to develop more clinical interventions that help patients and relieve pressures on the NHS’.

Another topic discussed by the pair was around IT/digital interfaces and ‘how we could work in the future to streamline communication and referral routes into general practice’, noted CPE.

Separately, the pharmacy negotiator has been appealing to MPs to sign a soon-to-be-published letter to the minister calling for her to:

  • Commit to working with the sector to create a fair and fit for purpose core funding model that ensures sustainability and properly rewards pharmacies for what they do
  • Effectively implement and develop the Pharmacy First service to allow patients to have walk-in consultations for minor conditions, providing accessible care and easing pressure on general practice
  • Build on other clinical service areas such as vaccinations, women’s health, and long-term conditions management.