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Politicians consider ‘open session’ to debate service-based contract

The all-party pharmacy group (APPG) may look to “take evidence in public” on the “shape” of a new pharmacy contract, its chair has told C+D.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) revealed in January that it will lay out plans for a service-based contract in its upcoming funding negotiations with the government.

APPG chair and Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron told C+D last week (March 7) that a funding settlement for 2018-19 is “on its way”, and the group may look to hold “open sessions” on “what form” the contract should take.

This does not mean “negotiating in public”, Mr Barron stressed, but instead “looking at” a new contract “as it's shaping up”.

Mr Barron suggested that part of the Pharmacy Integration Fund – which made headlines last year when it was revealed not all the money allocated for community pharmacy had been spent on schedule – could be invested into a new pharmacy contract.

“Let's see more of what community pharmacy can do on the service side – the burden it can lift off GPs and other primary care medical services, but also from the acute sector,” he told C+D after an APPG session on long-term conditions in the House of Lords.

“We need to use pharmacists’ clinical skills,” he added. “We should be looking at having a flexible way of making sure that GPs and pharmacies work better together.”

“If you can manage without a prescription medicine, you should,” he said. “I would hope that these fundamental things have been looked at by the department [of Health and Social Care] and PSNC when negotiations come along.”

To inform their session, Mr Barron said the APPG may look at pharmacy funding in “one or two” other countries, such as Canada.

At the Labour party conference last year, Mr Barron told C+D that he would like to see the healthy living pharmacy initiative included in the contract for 2018-19.

What else happened at the APPG sessions?

Mr Barron chaired the second of two APPG sessions on long-term condition management. The first session – chaired by APPG vice-chair and MP for St Austell and Newquay Steve Double – was held on February 27 and heard how community pharmacies are managing patients with conditions such as atrial fibrillation and skin diseases.

See C+D digital reporter Thomas Cox’s highlights from both the events here.

What you like to see included in a new funding contract?

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