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£23m promised to pharmacy was spent on rest of NHS, Brine admits

More than £23.5 million of government money promised to pharmacy has instead been spent on other areas of the NHS, the pharmacy minister has admitted.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) set aside a £300m Pharmacy Integration Fund in May 2016, to be invested over five years to “transform how pharmacy will operate in the NHS”. Eventually £42m was allocated for 2016-18.

In response to a written question from Labour MP Julie Cooper last week (June 8), Steve Brine admitted that in 2016-17 only £210,000 of the fund was spent “on schemes to support community pharmacies to become better integrated with the NHS”. This rose to an estimated £2.1m in 2017-18.

This included “support[ing] the employment of pharmacists in integrated urgent care, general practice [which accounted for £5m alone] and care homes”, Mr Brine revealed.

“These figures do not however include funding for a wide range of Health Education England schemes,” he added, including “training and leadership programmes which are expected to drive improvements” across the sector.

A further £2.5m is allocated for community pharmacy for 2018-19, Mr Brine stressed.

However, more than £1.7m in 2016-17 and nearly £21.8m in 2017-18 had been “appropriated...to support other parts of the NHS”.

His revelation was foreshadowed by England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge last year, who said it was unlikely pharmacy would receive the full £42m allocated for 2016-18 on time.

What do you think of Mr Brine's revelations?

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