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Pharmacy bodies call for 'right funding' to make NHS plan a reality

PSNC: We have been pressing for reform to reimbursement arrangements for a number of years
PSNC: We have been pressing for reform to reimbursement arrangements for a number of years

Community pharmacy needs to be fairly remunerated in order to meet the priorities of NHS England’s long-term plan, sector bodies have said.

In its long-awaited long-term plan, published yesterday (January 7), NHS England revealed an aim to “explore further efficiencies” in community pharmacy, by reforming the sector's “reimbursement and wider supply arrangements”.

It also pledged to work with community pharmacists to test patients for “high-risk conditions” – such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol and atrial fibrillation – and to offer medicines reviews and inhaler advice to patients with respiratory disease.

While pharmacy bodies broadly welcomed the NHS long-term plan, they called for fair and sustainable funding to help the sector meet these goals.

CCA: Pharmacy needs “right funding and regulations”

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) – which represents the largest multiples – said he is “pleased” the sector “is identified as being an essential part of delivering the NHS long-term plan”.

However, he called for the “right funding and regulatory framework to ensure that community pharmacy can reach its full potential” and to “help translate the ambition of this plan into reality”.

“We will be working with our members and local pharmacy representatives to ensure that community pharmacies are closely involved as the [commissioning body's plans] evolve across England,” Mr Harrison added.

NPA: Contractors need confidence they will be funded

National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief executive Mark Lyonette called for a “new multi-year funding settlement for community pharmacies in England…to give pharmacy owners the confidence to invest in services that will meet the priorities described in the plan”.

While the NHS long-term plan “probably represents the start, rather than the finish” of NHS service provision discussions, “the guarantee of proportionately greater investment in community-based care is common sense”.

Numark: Time to align funding model

Numark managing director Jeremy Meader called on pharmacy bodies to “ ensure fair and sustainable long-term funding for contractors in return for invaluable services”.

“Community pharmacists are ideally placed and already have the skills and expertise” to deliver the plan, he said. “Now is the time to align the funding system” to enable them to do this.

PSNC: Sector needs “funding shift”

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Simon Dukes said PSNC is ready to begin conversations with the NHS and the government on pharmacy’s contribution to the plan, as well as start negotiations on a “similar long-term plan for community pharmacy”.

PSNC is also “keen” to discuss the reform of reimbursement and wider supply arrangements, as the negotiator has been “pressing for reform…to reimbursement arrangements for a number of years”, Mr Dukes added.

“We know that for community pharmacy to make a real contribution to this plan we will need transformative change in the sector, shifting our funding from a focus on the dispensing of medicines to patient care.”

PSNC confirmed to C+D today (January 8) that funding negotiations for the 2019-20 contract have not started, but the negotiator is “keen to begin them”.

How do you think pharmacies can contribute to NHS England's strategy?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Funding pharmacists and pharmacies are two different things. I think it is important for us all to be aware of what both mean.

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