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PSNC accuses NHS England of withholding vital information

PSNC says it is unable to start negotiations on pharmacy funding in England for 2016/17 until NHS England shares details of its longer term plans for the sector and the analysis underpinning them.

The negotiating body also fears that NHS England is aiming for a larger funding cut in 2017/18 alongside reductions in pharmacy numbers and a drive towards a commoditised supply service, bypassing access to the support and advice available at community pharmacies.

In a strongly worded response to the letter published before Christmas, in which NHS England announced a £170m funding cut and set out other plans for community pharmacy, chief executive Sue Sharpe said the Government was "ignoring entirely" the evidence for the value of commissioning community pharmacy services. Furthermore, it appeared to have settled on a "course of action that will run counter to its stated ambition to develop a clinically focused pharmacy service".

PSNC has asked NHS England for information on its funding allocations for pharmacy for future years but this has not been forthcoming. Without this, and lacking further information on the commissioning body's plans on pharmacy numbers and increasing the duration of prescriptions, the Committee feels it is being deprived of information essential for a proper consultation.

In her letter Ms Sharpe states that the only short-term measure by which pharmacies can reduce costs in light of the funding cut would be to cut staffing levels. "The damage to the confidence and stability of the sector resulting from the extraordinary measures you have taken can only impair pharmacies' contribution to keeping people well and out of GP and urgent care settings."

Paucity of knowledge

In relation to the Government's intention to reduce pharmacy numbers, Ms Sharpe says NHS England is proposing to radically change the market "with a real paucity of knowledge essential for good decision making".

She accuses NHS England of intending to drive patients to a commoditised medicines supply service, which bypasses access to the support and advice available from local pharmacies, further reducing the viability of the current network.

"This is, I believe, at the heart of the policy underpinning your letter. The policy does not appear to have been formulated advised by expertise in community pharmacy. And there is an assumption that the care, advice and support community pharmacies give to their patients can be provided by pharmacists in general practices. This is wrong."

PSNC will host a meeting of LPCs tomorrow (January 20th) to discuss its response to the Government's plans and consultation.

The full letter from Sue Sharpe can be read here.

The policy does not appear to have been formulated advised by expertise in community pharmacy.

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