The prospect of delays to community pharmacy contractual negotiations in the light of an upcoming general election is ‘deeply concerning for pharmacy owners’, the chief executive of Community Pharmacy England has said.

Janet Morrison said that the negotiator would be discussing the impact of the election announcement on the ongoing 2024/25 pharmacy funding negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care.

‘The prospect of more delays is deeply concerning for pharmacy owners who urgently need good news: accelerating this negotiation, whether in the coming weeks or with the new government, remains our focus,’ she added.

The comments follow Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement yesterday of a UK general election on 4 July 2024.

Ms Morrison said that the negotiator had been preparing for the news of an election ‘for many months’, and had been ‘briefing and building support for community pharmacy across all political parties’.

She said this ‘urgent and critical’ work would continue, while the election period ‘will be an important time for building supporters in readiness for the new parliament’.

CPE will be talking to local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) about how it could work with them on this at today’s national meeting, Ms Morrison said.

And she encouraged all LPCs and pharmacy owners to contact their local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates seeking their support for community pharmacy, adding that CPE had produced resources and guidance to help with this.

Paul Rees, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), said last night that it was ‘imperative that any incoming government addresses the crisis in primary care and the looming cliff edge facing pharmacies’.

‘The first responsibility of government is keeping its people safe and healthy, which is why is so important that we address the deep funding gap that is pushing record numbers of pharmacies to the edge of closure and beyond, exacerbating the issues of waiting lists for GPs and hospital care,’ he said.

‘You can be sure that we will be pressing all parties hard to commit to solving issues like pharmacy closures and medicine shortages which are affecting millions in communities across the country who just want access to local health support.'

Royal Pharmaceutical Society president, Professor Claire Anderson, added: ‘With the health service under continued strain, pharmacists and their teams are working incredibly hard to maintain patient access to care amid workforce challenges, medicines shortages and financial pressures.

‘But there are also opportunities, including the growing number of pharmacist prescribers, expanding clinical trials, delivering care closer to home, and making the most of new advances in medicines.’

She added: ‘The future of our health service is a key election issue, and I would urge members to engage with local candidates, so pharmacy continues to be part of the debate.’

Meanwhile, Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA), said that as healthcare professionals, the delivery of safe and effective care for patients was a priority for pharmacists, and added: 'the PDA will work with any incoming government to help build a better health system'.

And he noted that the government had an opportunity to 'exert influence' over both NHS-employed pharmacists and those employed by general practice and community pharmacy sectors who hold contracts with the government, to ensure that 'all practice environments are properly resourced and appropriately recognise pharmacists’ clinical knowledge and expertise in medicines'.