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Community Pharmacies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:55 pm on 2nd November 2016.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health 12:55 pm, 2nd November 2016

I am sorry, but I need to make progress.

The NHS is going through the worst financial crisis in its 68-year history. Even the previous Health Secretary, who is now in the other place, said he did not expect another five years of such tight budgets for the NHS.

The black hole in hospital finances last year was £2.45 billion. Under Labour, we spent the European average on health as a proportion of GDP; we are now spending less than Greece. We are seeing a huge financial squeeze on the NHS and the cuts are part of that squeeze agenda.

We want the Government to think again on the cuts, because they will lead to more pressures on GP surgeries and A&E departments. There is a consensus not just among the Labour party, but among our constituents, the sector, clinicians and indeed Conservative Members against the cuts. It is Ministers who stand outside that consensus. Stephen McPartland has said:

“It does not make sense that we are encouraging pharmacies to take on a bigger role in the NHS, while potentially reducing the number of them.”

Anna Soubry has said:

“I do not think this 4% cut is a wise move.”—[Official Report, 20 October 2016;
Vol. 615, c. 974.]

Jason McCartney said

“when our A&Es are under so much pressure, we need community pharmacies”.—[Official Report, 17 October 2016;
Vol. 615, c. 598.]

I agree and our message to Conservative Members who want to stand up for their constituents and who have been lobbied by pharmacists is, “Join us in the Division Lobbies and get Ministers to think again on these damaging cuts.” I commend the motion to the House.