To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential contribution of community pharmacies to building long term value in the health and social care system at the (a) local and (b) primary care level.
Ministers recognise the important contribution that community pharmacies already make and also that they have so much more to offer. Ministers see community pharmacy playing an enhanced role in the health and care of our country with pharmacy teams supported to do more to help people stay well in the community, and in doing so helping to reduce the demand on other parts of the system, including primary care.
In particular, the Government has been piloting the use of community pharmacies to support urgent care and the management of minor illness in the community. Alongside public awareness campaigns promoting pharmacy as a first port of call for a wide range of minor health concerns, the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service directs patients into community pharmacy from NHS 111 Online and the NHS 111 phone line. The impact of this work is being evaluated and will be carefully considered by Ministers.
In addition to this, over 9,000 community pharmacies are registered Healthy Living Pharmacies, proactively delivering lifestyle advice and promoting wellbeing and self-care to people in the community. This is an important resource that local teams can commission to deliver a wide range of services to meet the unique needs of their local population.