NHS to spend up to £3.8m on community pharmacy clinical leads
Money from the Pharmacy Integration Fund will be used to recruit 42 community pharmacy clinical leads to local commissioning structures on salaries up to a maximum of £90,000, the NHS has revealed.
In a February 2 letter seen by Pharmacy Network News, pharmacy director Ali Sparke and outgoing chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge outline NHS England & Improvement’s plans to recruit these clinical leads to Integrated Care Systems from April this year.
The role commands a salary at the AfC 8d NHS pay band, which ranges from £78,192 to £90,387 – meaning that if all 42 clinical leads are recruited at the top end of the scale, the total wage bill could extend to £3.79m.
The PhIF will also fund “programme support” for NHS trusts on a basis of 0.2 whole time equivalent per trust at AfC band 7. This support will help implement and improve referral pathways to pharmacy services such as the discharge medicines service.
The PhIF funding will be available until the end of March 2024, after which ICSs will be expected “to have mature operating models” and make their own “permanent arrangements” for community pharmacy clinical services, with “regional budgets” assuming control at that point.
The letter offers more detail on the remit of these positions, which were first announced in November and are aimed at supporting the transition of primary care commissioning to ICSs.
The leads will be expected to “mobilise local systems” to embed clinical services as they develop from local pilots to national services commissioned through the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework.
They will also work with NHS trusts within the boundaries of their ICS to “embed referral routes” and “support an integrated approach” to the implementation of community pharmacy services, giving regular progress updates.
The leads will provide clinical advice to their ICS’s primary care commissioning team and work closely with the ICS chief pharmacist, as well as the ICS medicines optimisation committee board and local pharmaceutical committees.
NHSE&I is proposing that for the 2022-23 financial year regional NHS chief pharmacists will have “oversight” for the funding of these roles and will work “with each of the ICSs in their area to ensure that these posts are embedded into the ICS”.
In the following year, it is anticipated that the posts “will transition into the ICS,” with ICS commissioning teams assuming responsibility for managing the funds.
NHSE&I will work with regional chief pharmacists to create job descriptions and guidance documents “rapidly and certainly well before April 2022,” the letter states.
NHS services director Alastair Buxton told PNN: “Better integration of community pharmacy and its services within the wider health and care system is a key aim of PSNC and is at the heart of the agreed programme within the five-year CPCF.
"This integration requires relationships to be developed or enhanced with colleagues in primary care networks, at place level and within ICS; anything that can help facilitate this, such as NHSE&I’s investment in ICS integration leads, is to be welcomed."