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‘Aiming for agreement in July’: CPE chief gives service negotiations update

Expanded services announced in May could be implemented from this month, the pharmacy negotiator has revealed.

Negotiations on the Pharmacy First programme may conclude this month, according to Community Pharmacy England’s (CPE) chief executive Janet Morrison.

In a twitter thread published earlier today (July 3), Ms Morrison said that CPE was “aiming for agreement in July”.

This would be followed by “cross-government clearance” later in the month and implementation of the negotiations would run from July to September, she added. 

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

Ms Morrison said that CPE wants to get “new money out to hard-pressed members” as quickly as possible but that this is balanced with making sure that funding is “future-proofed and fair”.

And she added that these “complex and critical” negotiations “will have implications” for the next community pharmacy contractual framework “so it’s vital that we approach them with rigour”.


Negotiations over payments


“We are working at pace but the process and timing of negotiations are not in our gift,” she said, adding that CPE was working with “significant stakeholders across government” including the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), NHS England (NHSE), the Treasury and the Prime Minister’s office.

Ms Morrison said that “in-depth” negotiations were underway on the payment models and “service design” for the cardiovascular screening, contraception and common conditions services.

Read more: Claims Pharmacy First could fuel antibiotic resistance ‘disingenuous’

The negotiations on the payment models are looking at “the balance between funding core capacity and activity payments”, the distribution of funds across the services and how the “delivery and impact” of the services will be measured, she added.

And she said that CPE has been “represented” on a working group led by NHSE around the “interoperability of GP and pharmacy systems”, which is “essential” to the start date of Pharmacy First.


Pharmacy First


Meanwhile, Ms Morrison said that NHSE is developing the patient group directions (PGDs) for the seven conditions that will form part of the Pharmacy First programme.

She added that while pharmacy contractors are “involved”, this is being “clinically led to ensure alignment with NICE principles and antimicrobial stewardship policy”.

In May, a group of scientists raised objections to Pharmacy First’s plan to empower pharmacists to treat seven common conditions, on the grounds that the scheme could cause over-prescription of antibiotics and the spread of antibiotic resistance. 

Read more: Explainer: Could the Pharmacy First service affect my clinical liability?

On May 9, NHSE released its delivery plan for recovering access to primary care – revealing that community pharmacy would receive “up to £645 million” over two years to “expand” services, including a Pharmacy First service, which would launch by the end of the year.

According to the plan, the seven conditions that would be treatable by community pharmacists under PGDs were uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women, earache, sinusitis, sore throat, impetigo, insect bites and shingles.

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