The Prime Minister has been pressed to take ‘urgent action’ to prevent more pharmacy closures and to commission an appropriately funded Pharmacy First service.

During yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak was reminded of the important role community pharmacies could play in helping to deal with minor illnesses.

Labour MP for Knowsley and All-Party Pharmacy Group member, George Howarth, said: ‘Given the lack of capacity in the NHS… community pharmacies can help deal with minor illnesses.

‘But there is a problem. On average, 10 pharmacies close every month in England,’ he said in the commons.

He then asked the Prime Minister whether he would ‘take urgent action to prevent further closures and commission a properly funded Pharmacy First service for minor illnesses’.

Mr Sunak responded that he was in ‘rare agreement’ with the Labour MP.

He said: ‘I am a wholehearted believer and champion in the role that community pharmacies can play, and we want to make sure that they can do everything to ease some of the pressures in primary care.

‘It’s something that we’re actively talking to the sector about, we’ll always continue to do everything we can to support community pharmacies.’

He added: ‘I know first-hand how respected they are in their communities.’

The Prime Minister has in the past spoken of his experiences helping in his mother’s pharmacy in Hampshire.

But when Mr Sunak was elected as Prime Minister, National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette, said that ‘it would be naive to expect any special treatment from Rishi Sunak just because of his familiarity with the sector as a young man’.

The question in the commons comes after the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) shared a notice on its website stating that it anticipated research teams would soon be invited to apply to conduct a study into an expanded service to treat common conditions in community pharmacy.

However, as reported by The Pharmacist, the Department of Health and Social Care said the notice was not an announcement of the service or a guarantee for research into a potential Pharmacy First service.