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Minor ailment referrals to be discussed, as funding talks start

Simon Dukes: There are going to be some difficult conversations over the coming months
Simon Dukes: There are going to be some difficult conversations over the coming months

Funding negotiations for the 2019-20 pharmacy contract have started, with the possibility of a national minor illness referral service up for discussion, PSNC has said.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England have agreed a set of proposals for the 2019-20 pharmacy contract “and beyond”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said this afternoon (April 9).

They have now been shared with PSNC, officially starting the contract negotiations, it added.

“The discussions will be complex,” PSNC said, adding that it, the DH and NHS England have agreed to keep the negotiations “confidential, to facilitate frank and open discussion”.

However, from details in the NHS long-term plan and the new GP contract, PSNC expects discussions to include the possible rollout of a “national minor illnesses referral service via NHS 111, and the piloting of referrals to community pharmacy from other settings such as GPs and NHS.UK”.

“The future of the healthy living pharmacy programme and the effective use of the Pharmacy Integration Fund” will also form part of the discussions, PSNC said.

Announcing the interim funding arrangements last month, the negotiator said discussions around the future of the medicines use review (MUR) service would also form part of contract talks. This was confirmed in today's announcement.

Challenging reimbursement discussions 

PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said he expects “some difficult conversations over the coming months”, particularly around funding and reimbursement.

“Our negotiating team includes experienced PSNC members from both the independent and multiple sectors, so contractors can be assured that we will be well equipped and absolutely committed to getting the best possible deal for community pharmacy,” he added.

“Our priority is to seek a sustainable future for community pharmacy to enable us to better utilise the skills and knowledge of pharmacy teams to help people stay well in the community.”

Matt Hancock wants more efficient pharmacy services

Health secretary Matt Hancock said he is “pleased” contract negotiations have started.

“As part of the long-term plan for the NHS we want to see pharmacies deliver a wider range of more efficient services and give patients more control over their care and personal health,” he explained.

The start of contract negotiations – guided by the new public health minister Seema Kennedy – signals an important step in delivering that ambition, he added.

What do you make of the proposals outlined for pharmacy contract negotiations?

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

I read this as MUR's and quality payments are going and instead the money will be used for referrals from 111 and possibly the odd GP. So standard hours contract pharmacies will loose around £12K per year in funding without any corresponding increase in referral payments as they are not open out of hours. pharmacies on 100 hour contracts will also loose £12 per year but possibly make this back through referrals. They will still be unprofitable and so now will standard hour contract pharmacies

"Matt Hancock wants more efficient pharmacy services" - when his predecessors said stuff like this it usually meant they wanted to see more automation

Sam Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Sounds a bit like Brexit negotiations. PSNC could have consulted members on what they would like to see and offer, rather than assuming.

Not everyone want to become a contact pharmacist (touching/examining patients). Some of us avoided becoming doctors for this reason. I described myself as a non-contact pharmacist and enjoy not injecting people, looking down throats, testing moles, pregnancy, taking bloods etc. 

Having a clear brief on what the majority of pharmacies wanted to offer or have the capability to offer would be preferential.

Has everyone forgotten 2005 and we all rushed to install consultation rooms with sinks. That sink has hardly been used. The room is used purely for MUR/NMS. Need to understand what pharmacy is able and capable of delivering before entering the negotiating table. Otherwise we will see late nights, weekends etc added to our contracts agreed by PSNC for no income increase, just redistribution.


Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Great stuff........Professional (not peanuts) consultation fee, appointments only and user friendly claim system as an absolute minimum to enable Pharmacy to deliver the service with the extra pharmacist needed.Also receptionist needed to book people in and admin staff to complete the claims...Good enough for other healthcare professional in NHS so good enough for us surely ???All of the 'extra' pharmacists churned out by Schools of Pharmacy can then pay back their student loans to the government as well. Patients receive a service and Pharmacy is paid appropriately for providing it.Win Win

anti-depressed Pharmacist, Manager

Lets hope there are plans in place to stop this service being abused by doctors, employers and patients.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

To misquote Ben Elton - "Bend over, Pharmacy, it's poker time!"

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