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Pharmacy First negotiations ‘concluded’, CPE chief announces

Negotiations for the new Pharmacy First scheme are complete, with details to be announced “very shortly”, Janet Morrison has revealed.

Negotiations for the Pharmacy First programme between Community Pharmacy England (CPE), NHS England (NHSE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) have “concluded”, CPE chief executive Janet Morrison announced yesterday (November 5).

The government announced in May that it would fund a community pharmacy common ailments scheme in England as part of a £645 million investment into the sector over two years. 

Read more: CPE ‘hopes to have concluded’ £645m funding negotiations by November

Speaking at the Sigma UK Community Pharmacy 2023 conference yesterday, Ms Morrison told delegates that an agreement over the announcement had been reached “last week”.

She added that a “detailed announcement” would be revealed “very shortly” but that the government must “fit it into [its] governmental grid of announcements”. 

With the King’s Speech due to take place tomorrow (November 7), Ms Morrison predicted that the announcement of the deal would follow “within a couple of weeks”.

Read more: Pharmacy First: Sector must prove it can ‘manage’ antimicrobial stewardship

In a statement issued today (November 6), which also announced the completion of the “substantive discussions”, Ms Morrison said that “detailed discussions” around implementation are “ongoing” ahead of “final clearance” from the government.

CPE hopes that negotiations on the next community pharmacy contractual agreement from April 2024 will begin “soon after” the Pharmacy First announcement, she added.


Negotiations “more complex than usual”


Ms Morrison told delegates at the Sigma conference that the negotiations had been “more complex than usual” because they involved a wide “range of government stakeholders” and required “high level approval” from the Prime Minister’s office and the Treasury.

She added that CPE had aimed to get funding “on the right terms”, including “upfront capacity” and a “fair structure of payments that don't just work now but [also] in the future.

She said that the deal was a “foundation stone” for the future, adding that “significant work” was needed around how the plan would be marketed to the public.

Read more: Public expectation may exceed ‘scope’ of Pharmacy First, warns FIP

Ms Morrison said that the patient group directives (PGDs) for the seven common conditions that will form part of Pharmacy First have been “signed off” by NHSE’s chief medical officer. 

And she added that the deal would include “digital development”, which would be a “complex and critical part” of delivering the Pharmacy First service.

Read more: Progress on £645m funding negotiations ‘slower than we hoped’, CPE admits

In July, C+D reported that CPE was aiming for the negotiations on the Pharmacy First programme to conclude that month.

But an agreement did not materialise and C+D reported in September that progress on securing the deal was “slower than…hoped”. 

Later that month, CPE said that it hoped to have finished negotiations by November.

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