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Half of CCGs plan to 'delay or cancel spending' this year

Over 40% of CCGs surveyed plan to review treatment they commission
Over 40% of CCGs surveyed plan to review treatment they commission

Half of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are planning to "delay or cancel spending" to meet financial targets, according to a think tank.

Of the 42 heads of finance – representing 50 CCGs across the UK – surveyed by the King's Fund, 50% said that "achieving this year's financial forecast is likely to depend" on tightening budgets.

Over 40% of CCGs that responded to the survey – which ran between April 13 and May 4 – said they plan to review or reduce the level of planned "treatment" they commission to meet 2017-18 financial forecasts.

CCGs are responsible for commissioning community pharmacy services such as minor ailments schemes, palliative care, and medicines optimisation initiatives. However, C+D has reported on a number of CCGs scrapping these services in recent months, in an effort to save money.

Commenting on the report today (June 1), King’s Fund director of policy Richard Murray said: “With many CCGs planning to delay or cancel spending, local NHS leaders will be forced to make tough decisions about priorities, and this is likely to have a direct impact on what care patients can access and how long they have to wait for it.”

Mr Murray did not give C+D detail on how – or if – community pharmacy services will be affected by the commissioners' spending reductions, but stressed that "better cooperation between hospital and community pharmacies" would help decrease hospital discharge delays and prevent "unnecessary [patient] re-admissions from problems with medications".

In October 2016, a C+D investigation revealed that almost four in 10 CCGs plan to scrap their pharmacy repeat dispensing schemes.

See the full spread of CCGs blocking repeat dispensing in the map below:

LPC welcomes CCG merger in Derbyshire

Plans to merge all four CCGs in Derbyshire have been welcomed by the local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) as a "positive step" for the sector.

LPC chief officer Graham Archer told C+D yesterday (May 31) that having four CCGs across the county has created “numerous artificial boundaries”, which “cause confusion for the public and patients”.

“There is one part of Derbyshire where GP practices and pharmacies on one side of the road are in one CCG, and across the road GP practices and pharmacies are in a different CCG,” Mr Archer said. “The LPC would therefore view a merger as a positive step.”

Plans to merge North Derbyshire, South Derbyshire, Erewash and Hardwick CCGs were mentioned at a governing body meeting in March.

All four CCGs supported a paper to form a “single strategic commissioning organisation” by April 2018, the document read.

Mr Archer said that he would not expect the LPC’s budget to be impacted by the merge.

“From 2013, we had four CCGs and two local authorities as major stakeholders and this tended to stretch resources,” he said. “From an operational perspective, it is easier to work with one organisation than four.”

Ongoing pharmacy services

Southern Derbyshire CCG commissioned a minor ailments service in December, as part of a three-year NHS contract, Mr Archer told C+D.

However, this service is only available in the city of Derby and part of southern Derbyshire, which risks "patient confusion", he added.

All four CCGs have also commissioned a medication administration record (MAR) sheet service – which helps to ensure the "accurate and safe" administration of medicines.

This service "is currently under review", Mr Archer added.

Have any of your pharmacy services been decommissioned?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Most services follow the logic of a stitch in time saves nine. Expect he stitch is making usage of the indespensible talent of pharmacists and support staff, and the nine is excessive costs due to delayed treatment in more expensive settings.

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