In an oral statement to parliament yesterday (March 18), health secretary Matt Hancock announced that the NHS will receive an extra £6.6 billion “for the first half of this coming financial year”, in recognition of COVID-19 pressures.
The new funding is in addition to the £3bn pledged to the sector as part of last year’s spending review, Mr Hancock added. Community pharmacy was not mentioned in the statement.
PSNC: Pharmacy needs financial support
Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) CEO Simon Dukes hailed the extra money for the NHS as “good news...as there is much work to do to help health services to recover from the shocks of COVID-19”.
The NHS "must recognise” that community pharmacy is one of those services that needs to recover following the strains of COVID-19, Mr Dukes stressed.
“Pharmacies have much to offer through this next phase of the pandemic too and we want to see the NHS supporting them financially as it starts to plan for the future,” Mr Dukes added.
He said he is hopeful that the negotiations for the third year of the five-year pharmacy funding deal will begin soon and stressed that, during those negotiations, PSNC will continue to “make the case for further funds, including NHS monies, to be invested into community pharmacy”.
PSNC revealed last month (February 9) that HM Treasury was refusing to budge on its original funding offer for the sector. Speaking in Parliament last week (March 11), pharmacy minister Jo Churchill said the DH “expects” to reimburse pharmacies for COVID-19 costs by reducing the £370 million the sector must pay back.
£594 million towards safe hospital discharge
Mr Hancock also said yesterday that the DH is allocating £594m towards safe hospital discharge.
“We can be grateful that we’re seeing so many people leave hospital, and our discharge programme has shown the way forward, ensuring people can get the very best care outside of our hospitals, helping them off our wards and into the right settings with the right support at the right time,” Mr Hancock added.
Pharmacies started providing the Discharge Medicines Service as an essential service from February 15, as part of which they will see hospitals digitally refer patients to them for advice on newly prescribed medicines or changed prescriptions.