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The Society’s campaign on clinical pharmacology & the NHS mentioned in House of Lords

Published: 23 Jan 2017 in Society news

During proceedings on 23 January 2017, peers in the House of Lords drew attention to the British Pharmacological Society’s ongoing campaign on clinical pharmacology & the NHS in discussions with the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord O'Shaughnessy).

Lord Young of Norwood Green (Lab) commented, “A letter to the Times on Saturday caught my attention. It talked about the importance of clinical pharmacology and focused on the safe, effective and economic use of medicines. A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers stated: ‘Each £1 spent to hire additional clinical pharmacologists has the potential to reduce NHS costs by almost £6’. Apparently, there are only 72 clinical pharmacologist consultants working in the NHS. The British Pharmacological Society recommends that it needs a total of 150 by 2025. Without urgent action, therefore, the impact of waste is set to increase, and that surely ought to give us cause for alarm.”

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab) added, “The Minister in passing raised the issue of clinical pharmacology. This is a clinical profession that most ​clearly enables the health services and, indeed, Ministers to understand the true cost effectiveness and value of new medicines. The UK is a world leader in clinical pharmacology but, because decisions about the appointment of clinical pharmacologists are made by the NHS, we are at risk of losing the whole profession. I was very disappointed that Health Education England proposed to reduce the number of training posts in its most recent consultation. We were very pleased to have a meeting with the Minister’s predecessor, the noble Lord, Lord Prior, on this, and I very much hope that the Government will be prepared to have a look at it.”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord O'Shaughnessy) (Con) responded, “As the noble Lord, Lord Young, said, there is a case for action here. The question is always whether what we are doing is proportionate, so I thank him for that support. I was not aware of the issue about clinical pharmacology and will certainly look into it. If he and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, would like a meeting about this to help me understand that better, I would be delighted. It is clearly an important part of having the right approach.”