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Lloydspharmacy will expand automation, but warns of flat funding

Lloydspharmacy: The commitment to flat funding will limit the sector's ability to innovate
Lloydspharmacy: The commitment to flat funding will limit the sector's ability to innovate

Lloydspharmacy’s parent company has responded to the new funding deal by committing to expanding its automated dispensing systems, while Well has welcomed “a more clinical future”.

A new multi-year pharmacy funding contract for England was unveiled yesterday (July 22), with the annual global sum remaining at £2.592 billion for the next five years, with medicines use reviews (MURs) phased out in favour of new clinical services.

Lloydspharmacy’s parent company McKesson UK welcomed the “much needed long-term certainty” that the five-year contract will bring. However, “the commitment to flat funding will inevitably limit the sector’s potential for investment and innovation”, it warned.

While the sector is already facing external pressures, including high business rates and rising property rental prices, McKesson UK said it is “committed to delivering on the ambitions of the NHS long-term plan”.

To achieve this, the company said it is “developing innovative new technologies”, “expanding our digital offer” and “will continue to expand our automated dispensing systems to help unlock capacity, allowing pharmacists to spend more time with patients”.

Well: “Significant challenges”

Well Pharmacy said the contract offers “a more clinical future for pharmacists”.

However, the flat funding deal “presents a significant challenge, due to the inflationary costs that we all face”, the multiple told C+D this morning (July 23).

“We believe working in collaboration with primary care networks (PCNs) will support the successful delivery of the NHS long-term plan,” it added.

Meanwhile, Company Chemists’ Association – which represents the UK's largest multiples and supermarket pharmacies – chief executive Malcolm Harrison said: “While we recognise that a further five years of flat funding will present significant challenges to what is already a financially strained sector, we are encouraged by the direction of travel set out by the agreement.

“We believe it is now critical that all community pharmacies embrace the new urgent care services,” he added, pointing to the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, which will initially refer patients from NHS 111 to community pharmacies, and could be expanded to include GP practices, NHS 111 online, urgent treatment centres and possibly A&E.

Mr Harrison also urged pharmacies to “engage with PCNs, so the sector is more integrated within the NHS”.

Rowlands: “Funding cut in real terms”

Steve Anderson, group managing director of Phoenix UK, which owns Rowlands Pharmacy, said the new contract is “a bit of a curate’s egg, with funding cuts and future funding uncertainties”.

“We welcome the commitment to introduce a more clinically-focused contract, but the funding freeze is in practice a funding cut in real terms.

“We know with certainty which funding stream will cease, but we do not yet have sufficient clarity about how or, more importantly, when the funding will be redistributed for proposed new services,” he added.

NPA: “Funding floor, not ceiling”

National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief executive Mark Lyonette said it “strongly supports the emphasis on clinical services” in the new contract.

While the five-year settlement “gives us the long view we asked for…static funding year-on-year means it will be very difficult to deliver the transformational improvements we all want to see”, he added.

“The government must be prepared to direct more money into community pharmacy,” Mr Lyonette said.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said yesterday that the contract will be reviewed and negotiated on an annual basis and “much of the detail, particularly for later years of the settlement, has yet to be finalised”.

Mr Lyonette said when it comes to these annual reviews, “we suspect the £2.59bn needs to be a floor, not a ceiling”.

RPS: “Right direction”

Royal Pharmaceutical Society English board chair Claire Anderson said the new contract’s “shift to a major clinical future is encouraging and is absolutely the right direction for community pharmacy”.

“A five-year settlement will offer some certainty for contractors who want to plan for the future, although with funding remaining flat and contractors potentially facing rising costs, the sector will no doubt be keenly watching how further details on services and payments are negotiated each year,” she added.

What do you make of the funding deal?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

The three chains that have commented are already knee-deep in cutting costs by centralising various operations through the hub and spoke models. Rowlands with Pilpouches, Lloyds with MDS Robopharma, and Well with Central Fulfilment.

How this saves money is by providing the opportunity to cut staffing hours across their entire estate, and have already started this cut-cutting exercise. By no means is it a moral one, but it is an intelligent business decision.

I only wish companies could be more honest with themselves and show the integrity the Pharmacy profession advocates; being open and honest with their intentions.

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

.....Rents are deflating owing to a glut in the retail outlets as a result of closures of other businesses ..... single owned premises with a RV under 15K, are exempt from tax, and for the next two years there is a 30% discount on RV up to 28k!!.. Drop in fixed overhead costs overall.....

IAN FRASER, Locum pharmacist

If that happened to you would you not be demoralised especially if you were coming from a 12% pay cut and your bosses told you the best that was on offer was to maintain the post pay cut salary if you worked harder and trained free of charge for new responsibilities you would reject that offer for sure yet you praise yourselves when you achieve that for those you tepresent

IAN FRASER, Locum pharmacist

Simple question PSNC negotiating people do you accept that you must also be committed to not receiving a pay rise/bonus for the next five years as it would be hypocritical to do otherwise and a slap in the face to those you represent?

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