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PSNC: 'Incomprehensible' that budget bypasses pharmacy

Philip Hammond announced £100m investment in A&E departments
Philip Hammond announced £100m investment in A&E departments

It makes no sense that the government’s spring budget plans for new NHS models of care overlook community pharmacy, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

In his first spring budget as chancellor, Philip Hammond announced yesterday (March 8) that £100 million will be invested into A&E departments over the next year, to help them manage winter demand and get patients to primary care faster.

This would "for example, allow for better assessment of patients when they arrive at A&E and increase the provision of on-site GP facilities”, the chancellor explained.

PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said it is “incomprehensible” that the NHS is “bypassing [the] established, trusted and popular health resource” of pharmacy so it can place more GPs in hospitals.

“With the right enablers, [pharmacies] could take on the 1.1m visits to emergency departments for patients with minor ailments without delay,” she added.

A consultation in a community pharmacy costs “on average £29” instead of “£147” in A&E, and the plans “overlook the need to prevent the public from needing to attend A&E in the first place”, Ms Sharpe added.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) director for England Robbie Turner said he would like to see “further inclusion of pharmacists” in the A&E team, as the benefits of having them have "already been demonstrated".

How will the budget affect locums and businesses?

National insurance

Locums who earn annual profits of between £8,060 and £43,000 – those in ‘Class 4’ – will see their national insurance contributions (NICs) increase from 9% to 10% in April 2018, and then up to 11% a year later, the chancellor confirmed.

Tax-free allowance reduced
The tax-free dividend allowance – money paid by a company to its shareholders – will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 in April 2018. This means contractors will no longer be able to rely on the tax-free allowance to minimise tax losses, according to pharmacy accountants Warr and Co.

The rates after the tax-free allowance are to remain the same.

Business rates

Mr Hammond also unveiled £435m to help businesses facing increases in their business rates.

This means pharmacies that are no longer eligible for the small business rate relief will have increases in their tax bill capped at £50 per month – or £600 a year.

Councils will also receive £300m to help small businesses, on a case-by-case discretionary basis, the chancellor confirmed.


Growing role of STPs

The pharmacy bodies welcomed the chancellor’s recognition of the “growing role of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs)” with a £325m funding pledge.

However, “government continues to under-utilise the long-term and sustainable solution that community pharmacy offers”, Pharmacy Voice pointed out.

"It is clear that community pharmacy needs to continue developing its local engagement and leadership, with local pharmaceutical committees leading the way,” it added.

Mr Turner said the RPS would write to all STP leaders to encourage greater engagement with community pharmacy.

This article was updated on March 10, 2017. 

How does the spring budget affect you?

Brian Austen, Senior Management

Pharmacist and pharmacies have little or no interest or influence of planning STPs, the main policy driver until 2020. Community Pharmacy is viewed as a commercial enterprise by NHS England. They have 'clinical' pharmacists in General Practice and will continue to integrate pharmacists into clinical, multidisciplinary teams. Community pharmacy needs more self-reliance and to manage change instead of being in denial about its place and role in the NHS as perceived by NHS England.

ajaz akhtar, Student

A friend of mine slashed his otc prices which increased footfall and so signed up alot more ppl onto his repeat collection service......rx numbers up 15% 



Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

And, as long as the PSNC are representing our interests nothing will change.

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

What the hell do you expect ??We are never worthy of a mention for this or any government of the last 20 years on health issues,so what's new!!


Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

Class 4 NI also hits sole trader pharmacists as well.....when will these cuts and increase in workplace expenses end?

JOHN MUNDAY, Locum pharmacist

The changes to self-employed NIC rates have little merit. You might say I would say that anyway but to use the argument that theere needs to be more parity with employed rates is not tenable. Self employment has no benefits with regards to maternity/paternity pay, sick pay etc etc. That is why it is lower. The only new benefit is that you will get a state pension now. Hang on though..... that is what you are paying for surely? If the Govt want us to have parity then give us benefits parity as well so I can self cert some sick pay! Roll on next cold!

Priyesh Desai, Superintendent Pharmacist

The DoH intentions are clear and non negotiable so is there really a need for PSNC , lets cut the loss now.

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