I'm a longstanding supporter of community pharmacies - and am particularly aware that their role is crucial during the winter months.
The community pharmacies in Brighton, like many across the county, are a key part of the support system for local NHS services - dispensing over 1 billion prescriptions per year.
As we enter the winter months, demand on the NHS increases and the support of community pharmacies is crucial in meeting the health needs of local people in Brighton and Hove.
I take every opportunity I can to celebrate the amazing work of the community pharmacies in my constituency who provide accessible, effective service to so many people in Brighton. Services like promoting good sexual health and reducing substance misuse, management of medicines, as well as providing health lifestyle advice and support for self-care.
But as the case with so many lifeline services, Government budget cuts threaten their existence. Phillip Hammond’s budget last week failed to mention community pharmacies, an omission that could cause lasting damage to local health services.
Without proper support, reduced budgets are likely to lead to pharmacies cutting staff and opening hours and reducing some of the services offered, such as free delivery of medicines.
This is yet another example of a Government out of touch with the reality of the situation. Services like community pharmacies cannot continue to operate on shoestring budgets. The Government must think longer term and recognise the vital role of institutions like these that support our local communities and take pressure of other services already bursting at the seams.