General Election 2019 – A bright future for pharmacy?

By Sandra Gidley, RPS President

The NHS has become a key political battlefield and is featuring prominently in party political manifestos. With the election just a week away, what’s being promised by the parties and what does the future hold for pharmacy?

No crystal ball

We want to ensure that the role of pharmacists and the wider profession in delivering safe and effective healthcare becomes a central tenet of health policy. Our manifesto sets out some of our key campaigns such as patient safety, medicine shortages and growing pressures on the workforce.

We want the next UK Government to invest in pharmacy to maximise its contribution to healthcare. We want to see patient access to medicines secured in a complex global market and a clear future relationship with the EU (and the rest of the rest of the world) to make this happen.

Greater investment in the training and education of pharmacists is also vital. We have made it clear that this should be a key element of any future workforce strategy. We also want to ensure that patients benefit from advances in medicines and therapies. With growing pressures on workforce, the next government must expand health and wellbeing support to pharmacists and all health professionals delivering NHS services.

Positive signs

The political party manifestos offer some hope in achieving our calls to action and for delivering on key issues that we have long campaigned for. Our call to scrap prescription charges in England in line with Scotland and Wales is being echoed in the current political battles. Recognition of the pharmacy workforce across the NHS and particularly in primary care has emerged as a key health policy issue. Acknowledgement of evidence-based medicines and harnessing the potential of new medicinal products is also featuring in political dialogue in the run up to the election.

For further information about the pledges being made on healthcare by the main political parties, please see our handy summary guide.

Your voice counts

The clock is ticking but there is still time to have your voice heard. Why not encourage election candidates to show their support for pharmacy by using the RPS general election toolkit? Get in touch with your local candidates and invite them to a pharmacy visit to discuss the future role of pharmacy. You could also get involved in the social media conversations about the election, look out for #votepharmacy.

This election is a vitally important one. It is crucial that the main political parties back and support pharmacists and pharmacy services. As a pharmacist, please do make your voice heard and together, lets create a bright future for pharmacy.  

General Election 2019 – The Party Manifestos

by Jonathan Bisby

Like with any general election, the NHS is always a key battleground. Promises on healthcare from the political parties in their recently published manifestos has grabbed headlines as they attempt to secure votes. Here are some of the main manifesto promises that the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and other parties have made during this year’s election campaign:



  • £34 billion extra funding a year for the NHS by 2023-24
  • £750 million a year funding to provide 50,000 more nurses in the next parliament
  • Maintenance grants of between £5,000 and £8,000 a year for student nurses


  • A pledge to spend £28 for every pound that the Conservatives have pledged
  • Increase expenditure across the health sector by an average of 4.3% a year
  • A promise of a ‘lifetime cap’ on personal contributions towards care costs

Liberal Democrats

  • £7 billion additional funding to the NHS
  • A penny on income tax for the NHS and raise £35bn to spend on the NHS and social care
  • Bursaries for nursing students studying specialties where shortages are most acute

Access to services and medicines


  • Upgrades on six hospitals by 2025 and a commitment to start building new ones over the next decade
  • Free hospital parking in England for NHS staff and some patients
  • A commitment to make the UK the leading global hub for life sciences after Brexit and to work collaboratively internationally and with the EU on scientific research, including Horizon


  • Abolish prescription charges in England
  • Establish a generic drug company to improve fair prices on medicines
  • They have promised to stabilise overstretched A&E departments and improve stroke, heart disease and cancer survival rates by providing earlier diagnosis and improved screening rates
  • Progress the clinically appropriate prescription of medicinal cannabis

Liberal Democrats

  • £10 billion capital fund to upgrade facilities and equipment in hospitals and NHS buildings
  • A pledge to increase mental health services and provisions and reduce waiting times for these services by reforming the Health and Social Care Act and end what they call automatic tendering of health services
  • They will increase access to medicinal drugs on prescription, such as medicinal cannabis, drawing on international evidence to establish a clear evidence base for research in the UK



  • A commitment to increase the number of GP posts from 3,500 to 4,000 from 2021/22 and create an extra 50 million appointments in general practice by 2024/25.
  • NHS Visa for trained nurses and other health professionals coming into the country to make it easier to enter, but no similar pledge to social care
  • Delivery of the NHS People Plan with a commitment to recruit 6,000 more health professionals into primary care, which includes pharmacists, retain skilled workers within the current workforce and improve staff morale


  • Pledge to ensure that community pharmacy is supported
  • They will increase of 5,000 fully qualifies GPs into the NHS
  • Create an NHS working environment that is ‘safe, flexible and free from harassment, bullying or violence’

Liberal Democrats

  • Retain free movement of workers by preventing the UK from leaving the European Union and supporting the current European GP workforce and attract more GPs to work in this country
  • End the shortfall of GPs by 2025, pharmacy was mentioned as a profession which they will make greater appropriate use of
  • Expand GP training places to 5,000 by the end of the next parliament

The Scottish National Party is calling for the next government to invest significantly in the NHS and have promised to boost Scotland’s budget for the NHS by £4 billion over the course of the next Parliament. They will also introduce the NHS Protection Act, which they say will protect the health service from any future trade deals in Scotland.

In Wales, Plaid Cymru are planning for an overhaul of healthcare and have pledged to provide 1,000 extra doctors, 5,000 nurses and 100 dentists to be trained and integrated into the Welsh NHS. They are also calling for free social care at the point of need for elder people in society, estimating that this will cost the Welsh Government £300 million a year. A 5% increase pledge in mental health spending over the next decade is also a significant announcement.

The Green Party have also announced that they will increase funding to the NHS by at least £6 billion each year until 2030 and ensure that mental health care is put on an equal footing with physical health care. They will add a further £1 billion a year into nursing education, as well as reinstating nursing bursaries for students.

We are calling for the political parties to support pharmacy. Take a look at the RPS General Election Toolkit and our general election blog. This is an opportunity for you to have your say and help make the voice of the profession heard.

Could protected learning time for pharmacists be a reality?

johnathanlaird150Johnathan Laird is a community pharmacist independent prescriber with a special interest in asthma. He is based in Turriff, Aberdeenshire.

As we develop into more clinically focused areas, like independent prescribing and managing lists of patients, protected learning has to become a reality. With this in mind, I was delighted to read about the RPS in Scotland advocating the need for protected learning time in their manifestoRight Medicine – Better Health – Fitter Future. Read more Could protected learning time for pharmacists be a reality?

Our new policy manifesto for Wales

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By Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Chair, Welsh Pharmacy Board

In May 2016 people in Wales will cast their votes in the elections to the National Assembly.  Engaging with politicians in the run up to the election is vitally important in helping us secure a better future for patients and the pharmacy profession in Wales.

That’s why we’ve launched our policy vision for Wales, Steps to better health and wellbeing to help shape the manifestos of the political parties.  It highlights the importance of maximising the pharmacy workforce and using clinical pharmacy skills to help address the current and future demands on NHS services. Read more Our new policy manifesto for Wales