The Department of Health (DH) set aside a £300m Pharmacy Integration Fund in May 2016, to be invested over five years, with £42m eventually allocated for 2016-18. NHS England is responsible for allocating money from the fund.
As well as helping to fund pharmacists in care homes and GP practices, the money was also linked to direct referral pathways from NHS 111 to community pharmacies for both urgent repeat prescriptions and minor ailments.
However, England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge told delegates at an NHS England event this morning (November 16) that it is unlikely that pharmacy will receive the full £42m allocated for 2016-18 by the end of the financial year.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society English pharmacy board chair Sandra Gidley – who attended today's event – told C+D that Dr Ridge said he will provide more information on the amount of funding pharmacy has received so far this year "in the near future".
NHS England confirmed to C+D that Dr Ridge will provide an update on the exact figures for the fund "soon".
Its Pharmacy Integration Event in London today was intended to update attendees "about progress on initiatives including workforce development, digital integration and new career pathways". It told C+D that the event was "for stakeholders only" and press were not allowed to attend.
Funding "hosepipe has been stepped on"
Speaking to C+D from the event, Ms Gidley said it is "depressing" that the full integration fund promised by NHS England has not been allocated to pharmacy.
"The sad thing is, we have got people who have been working hard to spend this money and develop roles for pharmacists," she said.
"It is really frustrating to have the [funding] hosepipe stepped on, as it were," she added.
Dr Ridge had said he "was not yet in a position" to share exact figures on the Pharmacy Integration Fund, "because he has not got permission", Ms Gidley told C+D.
"This is public money we're talking about," she stressed.
Twitter reaction from NHS England's event
@keithridge1 opens the Pharmacy Integration Event at the Oval - "....every intention to maintain a vibrant, high quality community pharmacy service..." @NHSEngland @pcpa_org @rpharms pic.twitter.com/mZBh3kECqQ— Graham Stretch (@GrahamStretch) November 16, 2017
Ridge admits that pharmacy unlikely to have the full £40million integration £ - hopefully full Amt nxt yr Groundhog Day— Sandra Gidley (@SandraGidley) November 16, 2017
Interesting question from @grahamsphillips at NHSE #pharmacyintegration event in London - why were the pharmacy press not allowed here? Even more interesting refusal to answer. Maybe the power of Twitter can loosen the resistance— Nick Hunter (@NickHunter19) November 16, 2017
.@grahamsphillips making excellent point about the patients visiting community pharmacies today are the care homes residents of the future and true integration would be helping prevent these patients becoming care home patients of the future— Nick Hunter (@NickHunter19) November 16, 2017