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Matt Hancock: New contract moves pharmacies towards a French model

The new funding contract moves England's pharmacies closer to the model used in France, health secretary Matt Hancock has said.

The service-focused, five-year contract for England – which comes into force today (October 1) – allows pharmacists to do “far more”, Mr Hancock said during a fringe event at the Conservative party conference in Manchester yesterday (September 30).

“Pharmacists [are] highly trained, highly capable [and] closely in touch with their local communities. The new pharmacy contract is really important because pharmacists are going to be more like [the] French model,” he said.

It is “standard practice” to go to a pharmacist before seeing a GP for minor ailments in France, Mr Hancock explained.

The health secretary exclusively revealed his admiration of the French model to C+D last year. His department went on to explain that pharmacies on the other side of the channel offer a wider range of services and play a stronger role in their communities.

When Mr Hancock met his French counterpart Agnès Buzyn in May to discuss their pharmacy model further – which he also revealed exclusively to C+D – she informed him that her office had received “lots” of calls from British journalists keen to find out more about the model, Mr Hancock added yesterday.

Listen to C+D's podcast from June on the French pharmacy model – and why Mr Hancock is such a fan:

Delivering services with reduced funding

When asked by C+D how England's pharmacies can deliver the new service-based contract when funding has been frozen for five years, Mr Hancock said: “The existing envelope was based on a flat-cash agreement, but there is scope within it for lots more services.”

C+D told the health secretary that while many welcomed the new focus on providing services, pharmacy owners “feel like they just do not have the time or money” to deliver them.

Mr Hancock said: “If [pharmacies] do deliver more services, then they will get more in return.”

“I hope that we’ll see lots more services, as pharmacies are used more and more within the NHS family.

“I’m absolutely convinced that there is more to do, [but] I’m very excited about the progress with making the most of our community pharmacies right across the country,” he added.

What do you make of Mr Hancock's comments?

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