The community pharmacy sector in England is to have its first five-year funding settlement with the Government, with funding fixed at the current level of £2.592bn per year up to 2023-24 and a much-anticipated expansion of service delivery set to go ahead.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced today (Monday July 22) that the multi-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) deal had been signed off following its negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I).
Key aspects of the deal include:
Throughout what it described as “difficult negotiations” lasting “many hundreds of hours”, PSNC did not succeed in persuading the Government to raise the global sum above current levels.
However, the negotiator said, the flat funding agreement provided “significantly more than original Government plans,” as the Government had at one point planned to make further cuts.
The five-year agreement PSNC secured also provides greater stability than the two-year contract the Government had initially planned on, said PSNC.
PSNC said that although it recognised that many contractors are “facing severe financial pressures,” the deal “puts the sector on a clear future path.”
It added that annual CPCF reviews would “give us the opportunity to review service delivery and to make the case with regard to contractor costs,” and that the Government had also agreed to explore new funding models.
PSNC chief Simon Dukes said that “for the benefit and future viability of the entire sector, this deal was the best scenario and it brings many key benefits for community pharmacies”.
Mr Dukes said the five-year agreement “brings us into a better working relationship with our key customers” and “will better integrate the sector at the heart of primary care: giving community pharmacy a growing and indispensable part to play in delivering the NHS Long Term Plan”.
Gary Warner, an independent contractor and chair of PSNC’s service development subcommittee, said the newly introduced Community Pharmacist Consultation Service was an “exciting development for community pharmacies,” albeit one that would pose “big challenges” such as unpredictable workload.