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PSNC stance on contraception service ‘unchanged’ despite funding pledge

The pharmacy negotiator has said it is reserving judgement towards the pharmacy contraception service pending negotiations that will give a clearer idea of its "affordability" for the sector.

The controversial NHS pharmacy contraception service, which has come under fire from the sector over a lack of funding, looks set to benefit from a two-year £645-million investment in community pharmacy services announced today (May 9) by NHS England (NHSE).

Negotiations between the government and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) will determine how much of this new funding will be moved to the contraceptive service, among other details.

Read more: London LPCs urge their 1,498 pharmacies to opt out of contraception service

PSNC, which represents the interests of community pharmacists in England, said it will wait for the conclusion of consultations with NHSE before coming out in full support of the service.

In a statement released in response to the funding announcement today, the negotiator said it was “very positive” that the government had “listened to and responded to” its concerns over the contraception service’s affordability.

Read more: Government injects £645m investment into community pharmacy

But it said that “until the detailed negotiations have concluded we won’t fully know what this means for the service and its affordability, so for now PSNC’s position is unchanged”.

The negotiator pledged to “review this position in due course”.

 

Primary care recovery plan

 

The funding announcement came with the release of the long-anticipated primary care recovery plan.

According to the plan, the pharmacy contraception service will be expanded from “late 2023, dependent on findings from initial pilots currently underway and consultation”.

Read more: Day Lewis halts pharmacy contraception service until funding progress made

“Almost half a million women will no longer need to speak to a practice nurse or GP to access oral contraception and will instead be able to pop into their local pharmacy for it,” according to NHSE .

The delivery plan estimates that “a quarter of women taking oral contraceptives could be using this service by 2024.”

Read more: Pharmacy First set for national launch ‘by end of 2023’ following consultation

Other services that will benefit from the funding boost include the long-awaited Pharmacy First service and the hypertension case-finding service.
 
The first tier of the oral contraceptive service was launched last month (April 24), but has stalled, with the pharmacy chain Day Lewis announcing that it would not provide the service in the absence of new funding commitments from the government. 
 
 
In March this year, PSNC called on the government to halt the launch of new and expanded services, like the oral contraception service, until pharmacies are properly compensated for providing these services.
 
According to the primary care recovery plan, the need for new funding for this programme has now been recognised by the government, as it moves to ease pressures on GPs and clinics by shifting some services that were previously the domain of GPs to community pharmacists. 
 
Check the C+D site for the latest coverage on this developing story

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