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Pharmacy unlikely to receive promised £42m fund in time, Ridge admits

Pharmacists are unlikely to benefit from the full £42 million set aside to integrate the profession into the NHS in 2016-18, England's chief pharmaceutical officer has revealed.

The Department of Health (DH) set aside a £300m Pharmacy Integration Fund in May 2016, to be invested over five years, with £42m eventually allocated for 2016-18. NHS England is responsible for allocating money from the fund.

As well as helping to fund pharmacists in care homes and GP practices, the money was also linked to direct referral pathways from NHS 111 to community pharmacies for both urgent repeat prescriptions and minor ailments.

However, England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge told delegates at an NHS England event this morning (November 16) that it is unlikely that pharmacy will receive the full £42m allocated for 2016-18 by the end of the financial year.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society English pharmacy board chair Sandra Gidley – who attended today's event – told C+D that Dr Ridge said he will provide more information on the amount of funding pharmacy has received so far this year "in the near future".

NHS England confirmed to C+D that Dr Ridge will provide an update on the exact figures for the fund "soon".

Its Pharmacy Integration Event in London today was intended to update attendees "about progress on initiatives including workforce development, digital integration and new career pathways". It told C+D that the event was "for stakeholders only" and press were not allowed to attend.

Funding "hosepipe has been stepped on"

Speaking to C+D from the event, Ms Gidley said it is "depressing" that the full integration fund promised by NHS England has not been allocated to pharmacy.

"The sad thing is, we have got people who have been working hard to spend this money and develop roles for pharmacists," she said.

"It is really frustrating to have the [funding] hosepipe stepped on, as it were," she added.

Dr Ridge had said he "was not yet in a position" to share exact figures on the Pharmacy Integration Fund, "because he has not got permission", Ms Gidley told C+D.

"This is public money we're talking about," she stressed.

Twitter reaction from NHS England's event

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