• Community pharmacy contract funding frozen at £2.59bn for next five years

    Community pharmacies in England are set to receive £13bn over the next five years under a newly-agreed contract, with a planned spend of £2.59bn each year.

    This represents a freeze in the community pharmacy funding package, with a £2.59bn annual funding pot also agreed during negotiations in 2018.

    The community pharmacy framework contract, published jointly by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), also revealed that medicines use reviews (MURs) will be phased out over the next two years, with the number of MURs community pharmacies can each carry out to be capped at 250 in 2019/2020 and 100 in 2020/2021.

    Instead, so-called “clinical pharmacists” will take on “structured medicines reviews” in primary care networks (PCNs).

    The new contract also details plans to phase out establishment payments, paid to all pharmacies that dispense a certain number of presciptions annually, from the £164m paid in 2018/2019 to £123m in 2019/2020, with no funding thereafter.

    The £94m currently spent on MURs and the establishment payment funding will be reinvested into new initiatives set out in the contract, including the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS), which NHS England says will launch in October 2019.

    The CPCS, which will combine the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service and the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service into one service, will see pharmacists receive £14 per consultation. Overall funding for the CPCS will increase from £4m in 2019/2020 to £19m in 2023/2024.

    Pharmacists will also receive £5.35 for each item supplied under the serious shortage protocols, which came into force in July 2019.

    The funding breakdown also includes “unallocated funding for future clinical services to include transition payments”, and the PSNC said there were also plans to launch pilot projects in 2019/2020 to implement point-of-care testing in pharmacies to support efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance, as well as a smoking cessation referrals pilot from secondary care services.

    Commenting on the contract, Simon Dukes, chief executive of the PSNC, said: “Over the past four months, the PSNC has put a considerable amount of data [to the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement] to demonstrate the rising cost base of the sector, as well as continually highlighting the value of pharmacy services, in order to try and persuade government to reverse that planned downwards trajectory of pharmacy funding.

    “While we have not succeeded in getting an increase in the overall sum, we have secured a commitment from the government to a protected £13bn over five years.”

     

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