Pharmacy bodies have welcomed South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy to the role of pharmacy minister, after her predecessor stepped down to vote against the Government on Brexit.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced Ms Kennedy would replace Steve Brine as the new public health and primary care minister last week (4 April).
Ms Kennedy has been parliamentary private secretary to Theresa May since 2017 and is co-chair of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
NPA to champion community pharmacy’s ‘significance’ within primary care
Commenting on Ms Kennedy’s appointment, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) committed to ‘help her understand community pharmacy’s significance’ across the ‘wide agenda’ of her role.
It paid tribute to the ‘positive relationship’ it had developed with her predecessor Mr Brine and expressed hopes for the same with Ms Kennedy.
An NPA spokesperson said: ‘We want to work in partnership with [Mr Brine’s] successor, to make things better for pharmacists, patients and the NHS.
‘At the same time, our work to help independent pharmacies engage with the NHS at local level will intensify, as we recognise the growing importance of Primary Care Networks in England’s healthcare commissioning infrastructure.’
They added that the NPA would continue to ‘discuss pharmacy strategy’ with senior officials and the health secretary Matt Hancock, who will speak at the NPA conference in June.
RPS hopes for commitment to pharmacists’ ‘health and wellbeing’
Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board, said she hoped Ms Kennedy would build on Mr Brine’s ‘commitment to the health and wellbeing of pharmacy staff’, at a time when they are being asked to ‘play an increased role in supporting the nation’s health.’
She added: ‘We look forward to meeting the new minister and continuing to engage constructively with the Government on how pharmacists’ expertise will be central to achieving the ambitions of the NHS Long-Term Plan. The public deserves to benefit from making better use of pharmacists’ skills.’
PSNC ‘looks forward to meeting at the earliest opportunity’
The Pharmaceutical Negotiating Committee (PSNC) congratulated Ms Kennedy on her appointment and looked forward to ‘meeting her at the earliest opportunity’.
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said he hoped to build on the ‘collaborative working relationship’ the negotiator established with the Government during Steve Brine’s time as pharmacy minister. Relations had been strained since the long-running legal dispute over the DHSC’s cuts to community pharmacy funding in 2016.
He added: ‘We will ensure that Ms Kennedy is briefed on the value of community pharmacy and we hope to work with her to ensure that the full potential of community pharmacies is realised.’
PDA hopes Ms Kennedy will see pharmacy's 'real value'
Welcoming Ms Kennedy to the post, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said it hoped she would ‘take the opportunity’ to meet and ‘understand how our members and pharmacy in general can help the NHS to deliver better care and outcomes for patients.’
A PDA spokesperson said: ‘This is the third pharmacy minister in three years and we hope this minister will understand the real value pharmacy and pharmacists can deliver.’