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CPE: Delayed 2024-25 talks should start ‘imminently’

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CPE: Delayed 2024-25 talks should start ‘imminently’

Negotiations for the 2024-25 contractual framework for England’s pharmacies have still not started – but should commence “imminently,” Community Pharmacy England has said.

In a blog post on Tuesday (January 16), CPE chief executive Janet Morrison said the Government’s cabinet reshuffle last November had delayed talks, which “has been due to start last year”.

“We should expect to hear from the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England imminently,” she added.

As previously stated, CPE is working on the assumption that negotiations will be for a one-year period, rather than a multi-year framework such as has been in place since 2019.

This is because the Government’s spending review timeframe “has one further year to run,” Ms Morrison said, adding that her team expects the current spending review guidelines “will provide financial constraints on what can be expected in 2024-25 as it sets the parameters for all public spending”.

However, CPE still plans to push for a global sum uplift for 2024-25 to help offset the “grave state of sector finances,” as well as a write-off of previous over-delivery on margin.

The negotiator’s other demands include an “agreed mechanism” for reviewing funding in light of rising activity level and inflation and a “fundamental” reform of the margin delivery framework”.

Ms Morrison warned that the outcome of these talks is “hard to predict,” emphasising that while there is “strong evidence” for the challenges facing England’s pharmacies “the pressures on public finances and the experience of other primary care contract negotiators are also evident”.

Due to the introduction of several new services – including the soon-to-launch Pharmacy First – over the last few years, CPE is not expecting any “significant clinical service proposals” to arise from the 2024-25 talks.

There are “no indications” as to the possible duration of any contractual arrangements that will be agreed beyond 2025, Ms Morrison said, explaining that the upcoming general election makes it “impossible to predict” the future approach of ministers and NHS officials.

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