MPs on the Pharmacy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) have told The Pharmacist that they are on pharmacists’ side, outlining changes that they are campaigning for to help community pharmacy play a more clinical role in patient care.

APPG chair Taiwo Owatemi MP and APPG member Elliot Colburn MP both said there is a huge potential and desire within government for community pharmacy to play a greater role in primary care, and that parliamentarians can play a role in overcoming legislative barriers to achieve it.

However, Mr Colburn said that changes that required primary legislation would be ‘very hard because you’re fighting against the busy parliamentary timetable’, adding that the Department of Health is ‘trying to juggle so many competing priorities at the moment’.

He explained: ‘The only legislation that you can guarantee will be heard on the floor of the House is government bills, so in order to bring about changes you normally need to get the Government on board to agree to do something.’

Mr Colburn asked pharmacists to ‘please hang in there’ amid pressures on the sector, adding: ‘You have got friends in Parliament and we are fighting tooth and nail to try and get you the attention from government that is needed.’

In the run up to the next Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework, Mr Colburn stressed the importance of laying the groundwork for ‘structural changes’ and getting ‘adequate funding’, so that structural changes ‘don’t take years to implement’ or ‘get implemented badly’.

Likewise, Ms Owatemi stressed that many politicians are trying to have ‘conversations’ with their political party and the Government around community pharmacy, ‘so that we don’t come back here in a couple of years’ time having the same debate as we've always had for decades’.

She added that she was hopeful that change could happen ahead of the next CPCF.

Both Ms Owatemi and Mr Colburn have also encouraged pharmacists to speak out about the challenges that they are facing and to engage with their MPs.

What needs to change?

Below, Ms Owatemi and Mr Colburn outline the changes they want to see – including changes to the CPCF, access to patient notes, and seeing pharmacists play a greater role in integrated care.


Ms Owatemi said that parliamentarians could help resolve the debate around supervision, which would help pharmacists to play a more clinical role in healthcare. ‘As MPs, we have to be able to clarify that, and ensure that debate is moved forward to benefit the profession,’ she said.

CPCF review times

She also said that she would like to see a change in the review times for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework, which is currently renewed every four years.

‘Given the fact that health changes so quickly, that needs to change’, she told The Pharmacist.

‘In the past three years, health has changed significantly. That is a good example of why we can't have a review time that is as long as it currently is, and so I personally would like to see that changed because I think it would help pharmacies not be in the current economic situation that many pharmacies are across this country, because it [would have been] identified earlier and negotiations happened earlier.’

Meanwhile, Mr Colburn said that the pharmacy financial model – along with workforce issues – is not ‘tenable’ and there needs to be ‘changes’.


Ms Owatemi said that workforce was a key priority for her, including ensuring that the pharmacy workforce was ‘evenly spread out’ with enough pharmacists available in different areas. She said that parliamentarians could play a role in setting out a legal framework to allow that to happen, including legislation that would allow pharmacists to move to different areas of pharmacy.

Patient notes

She also said that she was looking at other areas where legislation could improve conditions for pharmacists, for instance how pharmacists could be given access to read and write patient notes.

Pharmacy curriculum

Ms Owatemi, who also works as an NHS cancer pharmacist, said that the scope of the pharmacy foundation course could be expanded, so that pre-registration pharmacists would have a range of skills, and called for changes to the pharmacy curriculum that would help pharmacists overcome barriers to holding leadership positions.

‘In order for pharmacy to have an equal platform with other professionals, we need to be able to encourage pharmacist to go for leadership positions, and that has to be uniform,’ she said.

Primary care

Mr Colburn, who previously worked in the NHS at a local commissioning level, said that he was passionate about getting pharmacists a voice on Integrated Care Boards, so that they can help design local health services and work out the needs of the local population.

He said that the relationships that community pharmacies with their local area had made them ‘well placed’ to deliver services like sexual health or early intervention prevention.

But while ‘primary care can be better delivered through a pharmacy first model’, he said that this would require changes to the way that NHS contracts are awarded ‘to unlock the legislative barrier that there is to pharmacists being able to perform things like vaccinations as a matter of routine.’

He added that while ‘community pharmacy has an absolutely excellent role’ to play in reducing the stress on the wider health system, ‘it requires government to make some big cultural changes and some legislative changes to bring that about’.

He said that this the opportunity to relieve pressure on the wider health service is an argument that they government found persuasive, but stressed that community pharmacy ‘needs to be adequately compensated and supported as a result of it’.