Announcement on primary care recovery plan funding expected soon
Negotiations on the £645m investment for community pharmacies in 2023-25 announced as part of the Government ’s primary care recovery plan have concluded and will be announced soon, Community Pharmacy England chief executive Janet Morrison (above) told the Sigma Conference at a Heathrow hotel on Sunday.
The negotiations have included work on the walk-in common conditions service, “which will be called Pharmacy First”, Ms Morrison said. This will cover seven conditions (sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bit, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated UTI in women). The funding includes further investment in the relatively new contraception and blood pressure check services.
Detailed discussions about implementation are ongoing; the announcement is subject to clearance by Government and the NHS, she said. It is hoped that the increased funding for contraception and hypertension will flow immediately, ahead of the Pharmacy First implementation. “The package also includes significant investment in the digital infrastructure to enable community pharmacies to access records, update them and refer back."
Ms Morrison said the negotiations had been more complex than usual, with high level approval through Number Ten and the Treasury, with significant work programmes on clinical pathways led by NHS England, reporting to the chief medical officer, and digital development including IT providers to both community pharmacy and general practice. “Ministers are now interested in how PGDs and independent prescribers will make the most of the capacity and competence of pharmacy teams to make the most of Pharmacy First and enable GPs too to work at the top of their game,” Ms Morrison said.
“We don’t underestimate how hard it is to accommodate a new service, but you are already doing some of this, so we hope part of the funding will be allocated to recognise that,” she added. “Pharmacy First must be recurrent into the contract, so we can have it as a foundation for further investment and growth.”
Negotiations on a one-year contract deal for 2024-25 will commence immediately after the Pharmacy First announcement. “The spending review has one more year to run,” she said. “We are just waiting for the Government to give the NHS side their mandate to negotiate with us. We will be asking for an uplift on the baseline contract – it isn’t enough to even do what we are currently doing – a review of fees, and new funding for increased volumes of existing services.”