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a department of health building imageApril 27 2018

The basis of the community pharmacy NHS contract in England and Wales looks set to change, following an announcement to MPs.

The Health Minister Steve Brine has written to the All-Party Pharmacy Group at Westminster to say that “the Department of Health will open negotiations on moving from a contract that rewards dispensing higher volumes of medicines, towards a contract that rewards care provided for patients.” 

PSNC has welcomed the news but says it is still awaiting a mandate for the negotiations on funding for the 2018-19 financial year from NHS England and the DHSC. However, it “hopes these discussions will begin soon.”

In 2016, the Department of Health had imposed a reduction of £171 million in the pharmacy budget. Since then PSNC has been developing plans to change the contract funding structure, and had discussed proposals for the future of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework at its January meeting. These plans were put to the Department and NHS England. 

The APPG had presented evidence on community pharmacy services to the minister who had shown a particular interest in the role of managing of long-term conditions. He had also noted PSNC’s proposals for the development of community pharmacy service.

PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe said: “PSNC’s ambition is to move to a funding framework that fairly rewards community pharmacies for offering a wide range of patient care and services including the dispensing of medicines. This is in line with the sector’s shared vision for its future and would include allowing pharmacies to offer more patient care, particularly for people with long-term conditions.

“The Minister has given no detail on what the substance of our negotiations with the DHSC and NHS England for 2018-19 will be, but we hope that we will be able to have substantive discussions on the future of community pharmacy. Given the very difficult financial situation that many community pharmacy contractors now find themselves in it is vital that we start to make meaningful progress towards achieving the sector’s vision.”

APPG Chair Sir Kevin Barron MP welcomed the Minister’s announcement. “This is a strong indication that the Department of Health will come to the negotiation table with a real ambition to develop services that make the best use of the community pharmacy network for patients and the NHS,” he said. 

“Our investigation has shown demand from patients for help to coordinate their care and set goals for treatment. It’s been a long-standing aim of the group to move towards a contract that incentivises high quality care, rather than volumes of pills. It’s vital, now, that pharmacy and government put their heads together and commission the most effective services.”

PSNC’s statement online includes links to detailed documents setting out its proposals for a contract that “fairly rewards community pharmacies for providing more patient care and support for people with long-term conditions.”

A final evidence session in the APPG’s investigation into services for people with long term health conditions will be held on Monday 30 April in the Palace of Westminster.

Links:
APPG statement           
PSNC statement           

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