- Government plans to reduce global sum by £170 million next year, from £2.8bn to £2.63bn
- Consultation on cuts will run until March 2016, with changes introduced in October
- PSNC "staggered" by "clear threat" to pharmacy network
The government plans to slash pharmacy funding by 6% next year, it has announced.
The global sum for 2016-17 will fall to "no higher than" £2.63 billion in October 2016, a 6.1% decrease from the current figure of £2.8bn, the Department of Health (DH) told the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Commitee (PSNC) in an open letter sent Thursday afternoon (December 17).
The DH will consult on the proposed changes with pharmacy bodies until March 2016, and make a final decision in April, it said. Delaying the cuts until October will give pharmacists "time to prepare for the change", it said.
PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe slammed the "unprecedented" funding cuts, which she said represent a "clear threat" to the sector.
"[This] will be a destructive blow to to the support community pharmacies can offer to patients and the public. PSNC will meet in early January to agree how to deal with this," she said.
In the letter, signed by NHS England chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge, the DH said the sector must make an "important contribution" to the £22bn-worth of efficiencies the national commissioner needs to make by 2020-21.
"The government believes those efficiencies can be made within community pharmacy without comprising the quality of services or public access to them," it said.
"More pharmacies than necessary"
There are "more pharmacies than are necessary" in some parts of the country, the DH said. "The development of large-scale automated dispensing, such as hub-and-spoke arrangements, also provides opportunities for efficiencies," it said.
The DH also used the letter to announce plans to pay certain pharmacies less than others depending on their location and local health needs.
How could the 6% funding cut impact your pharmacy?
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