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New GP contract marks 'another blow for primary care', says PSNC

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has blasted England's new GP contract as “another blow for primary care” at a time when an increasing number of pharmacies are "on the brink of financial collapse".

The 2023/24 contract, published on Monday (March 6), was "an imposition forced on the profession", according to GP leaders.

PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison noted that “the verdict of the GP negotiators is that the demands being made of doctors by government and the NHS are simply unreasonable”.

But “community pharmacy is being treated with the same disregard”, she said in a statement on Tuesday (March 7).

Read more: Pharmacy First service ‘most likely’ route to new funding, PSNC boss predicts

“The government and NHS know from the analysis and warnings we are continuing to give them that they are on very dangerous ground, with more and more pharmacies on the brink of financial collapse,” she continued.

“Too much is being asked of us” and there is “far too little funding available”, she stated.

It comes as Ms Morrison has predicted that the "most likely" source of any new funding for community pharmacies in England will be a Pharmacy First minor ailments service – with a separate “urgent funding uplift” unlikely.

Read more: 'Unprecedented closures': Pharmacy leaders press Sunak for cash injection

Pharmacy leaders have been warning for months that mounting financial pressures are putting many businesses at risk and could lead to "unprecedented closures".

 

Primary care recovery plan

 

Ms Morrison stressed that the primary care recovery plan – an upcoming document on NHS recovery set to detail government plans for pharmacies to take on “additional services” – must "include a lifeline for pharmacies".

“If it doesn’t, then our general practice colleagues and their patients can expect further crises ahead as pharmacy businesses continue to fail,” she warned.

Read more: Pharmacists are not 'cheap' substitutes for GPs – we are so much more

The new GP contract includes a major shake-up to appointment systems.

Patients must now either be offered an assessment or signposted somewhere else if they are unable to get an appointment the first time they contact a surgery.

The contract does not make clear which services GPs could signpost patients to.

Read more: ‘GPs on the cheap’? Pharmacists must not be seen as GP substitutes, says RCGP

NHSE has been contacted for comment.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has accused NHSE of “imposing” the contract on GPs.

And a senior GP at the BMA, Dr Kieran Sharrock, described it as “a failure to listen to what GPs actually need”.

The contract does “absolutely nothing to improve what is fast becoming an irreparable situation for practices and their patients up and down the country”, he said.

 

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