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UPDATED: No new pharmacy contract until ‘after the election’, says CPE

Community pharmacy will have to wait until after the July 4 general election for a new contractual arrangement, the pharmacy negotiator has confirmed.

There will be no new community pharmacy funding deal until "after the election" on July 4, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) chief executive Janet Morrison confirmed to C+D today (June 3).

Morrison said that discussions on the new one-year deal “can continue” but said that a “formal agreement” will need to wait until the general election is concluded and a new cabinet is appointed.

However, she added that the sector’s funding levels “remain critical” and that CPE will work “at pace” to complete the negotiations after the election.

Read more: General election: The pharmacist vs the Tory GP grandee

Morrison said that purdah – the pre-election period when announcements or decisions that might affect the election are paused - “effectively began” once Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the general election.

She added that CPE is “building cross-party support” and described manifesto pledges for the sector as “positive”.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DH) official directed C+D to the government’s general election guidance for civil servants.


Negotiations continue in Scotland


Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) told C+D today that its negotiating team “continues to engage with the Scottish government” about a new deal for the country’s community pharmacies.

Read more: Conservatives pledge to expand Pharmacy First conditions if re-elected

They said the negotiator continues to “work towards a deal, regardless of this election being called”.

Nevertheless, the CPS spokesperson added that it is “likely” that the outcome of the negotiations would only be published after the election.


Election fever


In an exclusive interview with C+D published today, PillTime’s superintendent pharmacist and Labour Party candidate for North Somerset Sadik Al-Hassan told C+D that he is not convinced that current funding arrangements, including for Pharmacy First, are good value for pharmacies.

“It would be good if pharmacies got paid for the activity they did and didn't do work for free,” he said.

Read more: C+D election tracker: How will pharmacy vote at the July 4 general election?

And health secretary Victoria Atkins yesterday (June 2) announced that the Conservative Party will expand the Pharmacy First service to include two additional conditions if it wins the upcoming general election.

Last week (May 31), a snapshot sentiment poll revealed that Labour was preferred by 43% of C+D’s readers, ahead of the upcoming July 4 general election.

Read more: Xrayser: Will a community pharmacist running in the General Election backfire on our sector?

This was a dramatic reversal of a 2015 poll that showed the Conservative Party was favoured by the profession.

And last month, Sunak unveiled his plans to introduce national service, which could see 18-year-olds delivering prescriptions.


Contract delayed


The day after the election was announced (May 23), CPE said that it was “accelerating” core contract negotiations, “whether in the coming weeks or with the new government”.

It said at the time that it was “deeply concerned” about further delays to the overdue one-year contractual agreement to replace the five-year deal that expired in April.

Read more: Teenagers could deliver prescriptions under Tory national service plans

CPE confirmed in March that negotiations on the new pharmacy contract for England for 2024/25 were “still in progress”.

“Until these negotiations have concluded, fee levels will remain the same and existing service arrangements will continue as previously announced,” it said at the time.

And in February, CPE admitted that there was a “question mark” over whether a new contract deal would be completed by March 31 and warned pharmacies in England of the possibility of an imposed 2024/25 contract.


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