Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced a review of the way entry into the community pharmacy market is regulated, but said the government has got the system about right.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced a review of the way entry into the community pharmacy market is regulated, but said the government has got the system about right.

Speaking at a meeting of the all-party parliamentary pharmacy group, she recalled how, in 2003 as trade and industry secretary, she received the Office of Fair Trading report which said that entry into the high street pharmacy market should be substantially deregulated.

She took a view against this after discussing the role of pharmacists with then health secretary Alan Milburn.

She said: 'The more I talked to Alan about what pharmacists were doing and could do, the more it became clear to me that sweeping away all the controls on entry would damage the relationship with pharmacists.'

In 2005, the government introduced a new 'control of entry' system to streamline the way primary care trusts handle applications for new pharmacies in their area. This is now under review as required in the Health Act, under which the regulations were established.

The official Department of Health review will run alongside a more wide-ranging inquiry into the future of pharmacy, launched by the all-party group last month.

As well as control of entry, this will also cover the new roles for pharmacy in the NHS and how they can be met.

Labour MP for Dartford and chair of the all-party group Dr Howard Stoate said the role of pharmacy in practice-based commissioning would be a crucial part of the inquiry. He said he would like to see pharmacists have a place on local commissioning boards.