Following negotiations between PSNC, DHSC and NHSE&I, HM Government has agreed to make a five-year investment in community pharmacies. The deal secures funding of £2.592bn per year for community pharmacies. The agreement also sets out a vision for the expansion of clinical service delivery through pharmacies over the next five years, in line with the NHS Long
The deal is in line with the GP contract, providing 5-year stability and reassurance to community pharmacy. The Government have said that this should allow businesses to make long term business decisions and to discuss investment with banks and suppliers.
The Government have said that this deal confirms community pharmacy’s future as an integral part of the NHS, delivering clinical services as a full partner in local Primary Care Networks.
There have been a number of new pharmacy services announced as part of the deal. Amongst the new services is the new national NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, connecting patients who have a minor illness with a community pharmacy which should rightly be their first port of call.
The deal seeks to recognise that an expanded service role is dependent on action to release pharmacist capacity from existing work. It seeks to rationalise existing services and commits all parties to action which will maximise the opportunities of automation and developments in information technology and skill mix, to deliver efficiencies in dispensing and services that release pharmacist time. The deal also aims to continue to prioritise quality in community pharmacy and to promote medicines safety and optimisation.
Matt Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care commented:
“Soon after becoming the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, I set out my ambition to unlock the huge potential within community pharmacy. I outlined that I wanted to see the clinical skills of the teams that work in pharmacies better utilised and to make best use of the accessibility of the 11,500 pharmacies throughout England. I am now delighted to set out this landmark 5-year settlement for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) which, from October 2019, will expand and transform the role of community pharmacies and embed them as the first port of call for minor illness and health advice in England.
“Community pharmacies are a vital and trusted part of our NHS. We need to draw on your expertise, your experience, and the invaluable human connection you have with your communities. Through this deal I expect to see community pharmacies further integrated within local primary care networks, doing more to protect public health and taking on an expanded role in urgent care and medicines safety.
“This deal sets out a clear future vision for community pharmacy, a vision which NHS England & NHS Improvement and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee fully support and are committed to delivering in partnership with us. I invite and encourage community pharmacy and other primary care contractors to work with me to deliver integrated and accessible community health services for all and to help people live happier, healthier lives for longer.”
Claire Anderson, Chair of RPS in England, said:
“A shift to a major clinical future is encouraging and is absolutely the right direction for community pharmacy. We have long called for pharmacists in the community to play an expanded clinical role and there is much to welcome in the new contract with focus areas on urgent care, prevention, medicines optimisation and safety. The exploration of innovative and new services will showcase the enhanced roles that community pharmacy can play, such as enabling earlier detection of cardiovascular disease, Hepatitis C testing and supporting public health.
“Referring patients with minor illnesses who would have otherwise required an appointment with their GP to community pharmacists will be game-changing for our primary care systems. If successful, the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service will support the delivery of the NHS Long-Term Plan and make the best use of the clinical skills of community pharmacists through better integration. It will also have a positive impact on relationships within the multidisciplinary primary care team and in educating patients about the types of support and expertise that pharmacists provide.
“Medicines optimisation across the health service should be central to patient safety. As Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) are phased out, it will be vital that pharmacists in all settings, including within Primary Care Networks, are enabled to help people get the most from their medicines.”
“A five-year settlement will offer some certainty for contractors who want to plan for the future, although with funding remaining flat and contractors potentially facing rising costs, the sector will no doubt be keenly watching how further details on services and payments are negotiated each year.
“It will be vital for pharmacy leaders to engage with new NHS structures to co-create the design and delivery of local services, and so we welcome transitional payments to help meet costs associated with changes such as integration into Primary Care Networks.”
Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) said:
“We strongly support the emphasis on clinical services and the recognition that pharmacies can play a significantly greater role in urgent care and public health. What’s more, the five-year term of this settlement gives us the long view we asked for.
“But static funding year on year means it will be very difficult to deliver the transformational improvements we all want to see. The government must be prepared to direct more money into community pharmacy if it becomes clear that funding is insufficient to maintain current core services and invest in positive new developments like the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service.
“We note the proposed annual review each October. To ensure the service levels required for patients, we suspect the £2.59bn needs to be a floor not a ceiling.”
Commenting on the agreement, Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of the Company Chemists Association (CCA), said:
“The CCA is supportive of a five-year settlement for community pharmacy. While we recognise that a further five years of flat funding will present significant challenges to what is already a financially strained sector, we are encouraged by the direction of travel set out by the agreement.
“The CCA and its members have been calling for a more clinically focused contract framework in recent years. We hope that the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service will allow community pharmacists and their teams to continue to refocus the sector on the delivery of care.
“We believe it is now critical that all community pharmacies embrace the new urgent care services and engage with Primary Care Networks so that the sector is more integrated within the NHS. We are also pleased to see the use of the Pharmacy Quality Scheme to support the sector-wide agenda for patient safety improvement.
“There is much still to be agreed within this settlement. We look forward to working with our colleagues from across the sector, through the PSNC, to help develop what the new framework will mean for contractors.”