A five-year funding contract for England was unveiled yesterday (July 22), with the annual global sum remaining at £2.592 billion for the next five years, and medicines use reviews (MURs) phased out in favour of new clinical services.
For community pharmacy to achieve the “expanded role” and provide new services – some of which are yet to be decided – “we need dispensing to become more efficient to free pharmacists up”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) said.
To achieve this, the DH will work with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) to “pursue legislative change to allow all pharmacies to benefit from more efficient hub-and-spoke dispensing”, it added.
This will enable “increased use of automation and all the benefits that brings,” the DH said. “We will agree with PSNC which models will allow the whole sector to benefit fairly,” it added.
The DH also pledged to “explore and implement greater use of original pack dispensing” to support the wider use of hub-and-spoke dispensing.
In 2016, the government tried to persuade the sector that allowing independent pharmacies to legally operate dispensing hubs would “create a level playing field” and give them a greater choice of which business model to operate.
But pharmacy organisations – including PSNC – argued convincingly at the time that there was no evidence that hub-and-spoke dispensing would save money or improve patient safety.
In a briefing with journalists yesterday, PSNC director of operations and support Gordon Hockey said: “It's fair to say that we were opposed to [legislative change] last time. This time we're working with government and NHS England...to make it work and make it work fairly for the whole sector, including independents.”
In May, C+D investigated whether NHS England’s hub-and-spoke dispensing agenda was making a comeback.