Stop cuts to pharmacy funding and support pharmacy services that save NHS money
On 17th December the Department of Health wrote to PSNC to impose a 6% cut in pharmacy funding. Pharmacy provides a crucial network, highly valued by patients, that makes huge differences to their health. NHS services are under strain and pharmacy can only help if the network is secure and strong.
Government responseCommunity pharmacy is a vital part of the NHS and could play a greater role. We are consulting on proposals for a more efficient, integrated, innovative system that reflects patients’ expectations.
The Government believes there is real potential for far greater use of community pharmacy and pharmacists in England: in prevention of ill health; support for healthy living; support for self-care for minor ailments and long term conditions; medication reviews in care homes; and as part of more integrated local care models.
We need a clinically focussed community pharmacy service that is better integrated with primary care and public health in line with the Five Year Forward View. This will help relieve the pressure on GPs and A&Es, ensure better use of medicines and better patient outcomes, and contribute to delivering 7 day health and care services. So the Department is consulting on how best to introduce a Pharmacy Integration Fund to help transform how pharmacists and community pharmacy will operate in the NHS, bringing clear benefits to patients and the public.
Spending on health continues to grow, with a £10 billion real terms increase in NHS funding in England between 2014/15 and 2020/21, of which £6 billion will be delivered by the end of 2016/17. We want to focus spending on lifesaving treatments and cures and we expect to spend up to an extra £2 billion per year on new drugs that patients need by the end of 2020.
In the Spending Review the Government re-affirmed the need for the NHS to deliver £22 billion in efficiency savings by 2020/21 as set out in the NHS’s own plan, the Five Year Forward View. Community pharmacy is a core part of NHS primary care and has an important contribution to make as the NHS rises to these challenges. This will involve reductions in the amount of NHS funding for community pharmacies in England. However the sum will remain significant with £2.63 billion of funding for the sector in 2016/17, as compared to £2.8 billion in 2015/16.
The Government believes these efficiencies can be made within community pharmacy without compromising the quality of services or public access to them. In some parts of the country there are more pharmacies than are necessary to maintain good access. 40% of pharmacies are in clusters of 3 or more meaning that two-fifths of pharmacies are within 10 minutes walk of 2 or more other pharmacies. We will ensure that those community pharmacies upon which people depend continue to thrive and so are consulting on the introduction of a Pharmacy Access Scheme, which will provide more NHS funds to certain pharmacies compared to others, considering factors such as location and the health needs of the local population.
We want to transform the system to deliver efficiency savings and ensure the model of community pharmacy reflects patient and public expectations and developments in technology. This is the time to embrace developments in technology to provide the best possible service. Prescription journeys are still too often slow and awkward. We want to promote the use of on-line, click and collect or home delivery models, to help patients to get their prescriptions in a way that fits into their lifestyle. This is about ensuring we have a modern, efficient community pharmacy sector offering patient choice, easier access and fit for the future as well as today.
We will also consult on amending legislation to allow independent pharmacies to benefit from remote dispensing processes (known as ‘hub and spoke’) which facilitates more use of automation and increases efficient dispensing processes. This will free up pharmacists to spend more time delivering clinical and public health services to patients and the public.
We are entering into detailed discussions with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee on the 2016/17 funding settlement for community pharmacy in England. In parallel, we are also seeking views on our proposals from across the sector and from patient groups.
In April we expect to have more details of the reforms that will be delivered from October 2016.
Department of Health
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