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PDA write to new Secretary of State for Health & Social Care

Sajid Javid MP has been appointed Health and Social Care Secretary in the Westminster government. PDA Chairman, Mark Koziol, has written to the Secretary of State outlining some of the key issues relating to pharmacists that require his attention.

Tue 29th June 2021 The PDA

Matt Hancock resigned as Health & Social Care Secretary after apologising for breaking the pandemic safety guidance which he had agreed and promoted. Mr Hancock’s resignation letter thanked “ team, the NHS, the volunteers, the armed forces, our pharmacists, GPs, the pharmaceutical industry and the whole British public...”.  The specific mention of the pharmacy profession reflects the increased profile that the profession has built during the pandemic period.

The new Health & Social Care Secretary is Sajid Javid, the Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove who has previously held several other cabinet roles including Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer.  Mr Javid took office on Monday 28 June 2021 and the PDA immediately wrote to the new Health & Social Care Secretary to raise several important topics relating to pharmacists and the opportunities to utilise the expertise and availability of pharmacists as a valuable part of the nation’s health system.

28 June 2021


Dear Secretary of State,


Congratulations on your appointment as Health & Social Care Secretary.

The PDA is the largest pharmacists’ membership organisation in the UK, representing members in all areas of practice including hospitals, GP practice and community pharmacy and we hope that under your stewardship the Department will take all opportunities to utilise the expertise and availability of pharmacists as a valuable part of the nation’s health system.

We believe that an area of immediate opportunity for the healthcare system is to better use those pharmacists who work in the community and primary care sectors in increasing the access to NHS care closer to where people live and work. This could release much needed capacity in secondary care as we continue to manage the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NHS spends around £16 billion a year on medicines, yet it is estimated that up to 50% of this is unused or not taken as prescribed. An example from the NHS Long Term Plan states that “90% of NHS spend on asthma goes on medicines, but incorrect use of medication can also contribute to poorer health outcomes and increased risk of exacerbations, or even admission”.

Currently the community pharmacy contractual framework is still based upon the volume of items dispensed in the pharmacy, and we believe that better use of pharmacists’ knowledge to support patients on how to use their medicines properly can not only ensure the best use of public funds, but also improve outcomes and prevent avoidable hospital admissions. If this could be fully achieved, then the up to 8.5% of hospital beds which are currently occupied by patients who have been harmed by the effects of the medicines that they have been prescribed, would instead be available.

In GP practices, many of the prescribing pharmacists that have recently been employed in this setting have been encouraged to diagnose patients to fill gaps created by shortages in the GP workforce. We believe that patients and the NHS could benefit even more if they were deployed instead, to manage the decisions around the prescribing and use of medicines, which after all is the unique training and expertise that pharmacists can bring.

We understand that your immediate priority is around the pandemic and ensuring that the NHS can reset and recover on a sustainable footing. We hope that your plans to build back better after the pandemic can be supported by both pharmacists and community pharmacies, where ongoing booster vaccinations can be made available to the public, just as flu vaccinations have been for many years.

You may also be aware that throughout lockdown community pharmacy has been on the NHS frontline remaining open to patients at a time when many GP practices focussed largely on virtual appointments. The volume of visits to community pharmacy for healthcare reasons increased by nearly 40% and this presents the Government and the NHS with a firm foundation to build more integrated, pharmacy-based services upon.

Alongside all other health professionals, those of our members that are directly employed by the NHS also await the outcome of their pay review and we hope this is something you will bring to a fair and appropriate resolution.

In summary, on behalf of our 32,000+ members across all sectors of healthcare, once you have become acclimatised to your new role, we would be keen to discuss with you ways in which pharmacists could deliver even more significant outcomes for patients, the NHS and for taxpayers.

We wish you luck in your new role.

Kind regards.



Mark Koziol

Chairman, Pharmacists’ Defence Association


The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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