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Day Lewis halts pharmacy contraception service until funding progress made

Day Lewis is pausing its rollout of the pharmacy contraception service “until progress is made with funding”, according to a letter shared on social media.

Tier one of the service commenced this week – despite the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s (PSNC) insistence that it had not agreed to the April 24 launch date.

The letter, published on Twitter on Wednesday (April 26), features the Day Lewis branding and appears to be signed by the group’s executive director Jay Patel.

Read more: Pharmacy leaders make funding plea as contraception service launch date looms

It said that the multiple “will not be launching” the contraception service “until progress is made with pharmacy funding”.

The pause comes despite all of Day Lewis’ pharmacists having completed their training to deliver the service, it added.


“£100k spent on training”


The letter said that Day Lewis invested £100k in locum backfill in January to train pharmacists on carrying out the service, “assuming it would be fairly funded”.

It added that “all” pharmacists are now trained, but that “unity in the community pharmacy sector is extremely important” to the multiple.

Read more: Launch date for national contraception service announced

Day Lewis has “always been keen and proactive to deliver pharmacy services, but the current model where pharmacies are asked to do more for less” and services are added to the existing global sum “is unsustainable and cannot continue”, the letter said.

It added that it is “distressing” that it has been “forced…to ration services” so that it can “continue to support” critically ill and chronic patients.

Day Lewis is one of the UK’s largest independent pharmacy chains, with more than 260 pharmacies in the UK.


Just 4% signed up


Mohammed Rafiq, co-owner of Whitewater pharmacy in Hook, Hampshire, told C+D yesterday (April 27) that he also decided not to sign up to deliver the service.

"It comes down to funding – if the funding isn't good enough, then it doesn't make sense for me to invest all my resources and energy,” he said.

It comes as the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has confirmed that just 456 out of the around 11,500 community pharmacies in England (4%) signed up for the new service within the first two days after sign-up opened on April 24.

Read more: PSNC hits back as DH ploughs ahead with reduced PQS amid 'imposed' changes

Pharmacy bodies have lobbied for the rollout of the service to be paused, warning that community pharmacy’s funding crisis could hamper its success.

Earlier this week (April 26), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) announced that it “cannot support the immediate roll out of this service”.

It urged NHS England (NHSE) and NPA members to “pause and reflect before further implementation”.


DH “supporting pharmacies to deliver services”


A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) told C+D that it is “supporting pharmacies to provide a range of clinical services”.

“We are increasing the services pharmacists – who are degree-qualified medical health professionals – can provide to their community including managing oral contraception”, they added.

They stressed that PSNC agreed in September to the introduction of the contraception service over the following 18 months.

“In September, we announced what more community pharmacy will do during the remainder of the five-year deal until the end of 2023/24 and provided an additional one-off investment of £100 million in the sector," the spokesperson added.

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