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  • Minister admits less than half of Pharmacy Integration Fund has been spent

    Minister admits less than half of Pharmacy Integration Fund has been spent

    Tuesday, 19 December 2017 09:45
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  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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a pound imageDecember 19 2017

There has been a “significant underspend” of funding committed to supporting community pharmacy, a health minister has admitted.

Expenditure on the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) was £216,305 in 2016-17. In 2017-18, although the government had pledged spending of £40 million to fund the development of clinical pharmacy practice in primary care, only around £18.2 million had been spent by the start of December.

The figures were supplied to the All Party Pharmacy Group by the minister with responsibility for pharmacy, Steve Brine. At a November APPG meeting, MPs had asked the minister for to set out how the PhIF was being spent. He has now submitted a follow up letter to the APPG detailing expenditure so far.

In it, Mr Brine says: “You will note a significant underspend on the monies committed.” Among the reasons given in his letter are:

  • the programme did not start until late in 2016-17;
  • the roll out of IT connections to community pharmacy meant the full commitment for the NHS Urgent Medicines Supply Advanced Service (NUSMAS) was not spent;
  • there was a significant disruption to procurement processes due to the 2017 general election and the change in ministerial team at the Department of Health.

Mr Brine points out that there has been some progress: the NUMSAS pilot scheme in the first half of 2017 saw 12,982 items dispensed by pharmacists, saving 6,500 GP appointments. There has also been “good progress” towards recruiting 2,000 pharmacists to work in general practice by 2020.

Other developments include:

  • the launch of the Mary Seacole leadership programme for community pharmacy technicians in September 2017;
  • the community pharmacy accredited checking course scheme will be rolled out from April 2018;
  • in January 2018, 1,500 places will be made available for community pharmacists to participate in post-registration clinical studies at diploma level, along with prescribing qualification courses for 2,000 pharmacists working in general practice;
  • January 2018 will also see the deployment of pharmacists into integrated urgent care clinical hubs and NHS111.

Responding to the letter, the APPG’s Chair, Sir Kevin Barron MP, said: “Less than half the Pharmacy Integration Fund budget has been spent with only three months of the two-year programme left. It was supposed to fund services that would take the pressure off other parts of the NHS and improve patient outcomes.

“The full PhIF budget of £42 million fell a long way short of making up for the funding cuts imposed on community pharmacy by the Department, but to now find that less than half of it has actually been spent is very worrying. What’s more, there is no indication of what the new PhIF budget for the next financial year will be and I am concerned there may not even be one.

“This is a missed opportunity, the PhIF could have provided a start for new services which we all agree that we wish to see community pharmacy provide. I want to see NHS England and the Department make the most of the unused budget in the next few months and to allocate a new, meaningful PhIF budget for 2018 onwards.”

Links:
APPG announcement     
Minister’s letter (on APPG site)  
PSNC information on PhIF             

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