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Community Pharmacies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:53 pm on 2nd November 2016.

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Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health 3:53 pm, 2nd November 2016

It is a pleasure to follow Julie Cooper. I was interested to learn of her personal experience in the sector. She gave a well-informed speech that was in stark contrast to that of her boss, Jonathan Ashworth. She was generous to contributions from Opposition Members, but it is only fair to say that Members on both sides of the House expressed considerable support for the work done by community pharmacies up and down the country. There is unanimity in the House on the importance of not only pharmacies’ current work, but their increasing role in supporting the NHS and providing services in future.

I am grateful for the contributions made today by 24 hon. Members, in addition to the Front-Bench speakers. I wish to start my remarks by referring to the impact that these proposals will actually have on the typical pharmacy, because I am sorry to say that there has been considerable confusion, mostly among Opposition Members, about what the proposals deliver. The average pharmacy will see a reduction in taxpayer subsidy of £16,000 a year. The largest element of that is a reduction in the establishment payment, which is a fixed payment of between £23,000 and £25,000 that most pharmacies receive just for being there. It will be reduced by 20% from 1 December, which equates to a reduction of just over £400 per month, or £100 a week. From April, it will decrease by a further £400 per month, to £200 a week. Those are not huge reductions for private businesses. This element is a 40% reduction in the only fixed taxpayer subsidy that I am aware of that is paid to private businesses up and down retail high streets in England.

Meanwhile, pharmacies will still receive £1.13 for every prescription item they dispense, with the average pharmacy dispensing 87,000 items a year, as was said by Luciana Berger, who is, sadly, not in her place.