â€œA curateâ€™s eggâ€ - responses to funding deal come in
The announcement yesterday (July 22) that the new Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) would give Englandâ€™s community pharmacy sector a five-year funding deal for the first time has been met with a range of responses.
Pharmacy bodies, contractor representatives and companies have broadly welcomed the move to a more clinical role for pharmacists, with hepatitis C screening and detecting undiagnosed hypertension and atrial fibrillation among the services and pilots outlined in the new CPCF.
However, many have voiced concern over the prospect of flat funding for the next five years (PSNC secured a commitment from the Government to keep funding at current levels of Â£2.592bn per year until 2024).
CCA: â€œWe are encouragedâ€
Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemistsâ€™ Association (CCA), said: â€œThe CCA is supportive of a five-year settlement for community pharmacy. While we recognise that a further five years of flat funding will present significant challenges to what is already a financially strained sector, we are encouraged by the direction of travel set out by the agreement.Â â€œ
â€œThe CCA and its members have been calling for a more clinically focused contract framework in recent years. We hope that the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service will allow community pharmacists and their teams to continue to refocus the sector on the delivery of care.â€
â€œThere is much still to be agreed within this settlement,â€ Mr Harrison noted.
McKesson: Flat funding â€œlimits investment potentialâ€
McKesson UK, owner of the Lloydspharmacy chain, said that while the funding settlement provided â€œmuch needed long-term certaintyâ€ which would enable it and the sector to make a greater contribution towards the aims of the NHS Long-Term Plan, â€œexternal pressuresâ€ felt by the sector, such as high business rates and property rental price increases, meant that the commitment to flat funding would â€œlimit the sectorâ€™s potential for investment and innovation.â€Â
The company said it planned to develop â€œinnovative new technologies including digital services, to build on wider opportunitiesâ€, expand its digital offer, develop new channels to improve patient access to services, and continue to expand its automated dispensing systems to â€œhelp unlock capacity allowing pharmacists to spend more time with patientsâ€.Â
NPA: Â£2.59bn â€œa floor not a ceilingâ€
Mark Lyonette, chief executive at the NPA echoed these concerns, saying that while the organisation supported the emphasis on clinical services and the â€œrecognition that pharmacies can play a significantly greater role in urgent care and public healthâ€, static funding meant it would be â€œvery difficultâ€ to deliver â€œthe transformational improvements we all want to seeâ€.Â
Mr Lyonette said that the Government must be prepared to direct more money into community pharmacy if it became clear that funding was insufficient to maintain current core services and invest in positive new developments like the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service.
â€œWe note the proposed annual review each October. To ensure the service levels required for patients, we suspect the Â£2.59bn needs to be a floor not a ceiling,â€ he said.
RPS: â€œEngage with new NHS structuresâ€
Claire Anderson, chair of Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England said that the â€œshift to a major clinical futureâ€ was encouraging and chimed with the Societyâ€™s long-stated ambitions, and spoke positively of the â€œinnovative and new servicesâ€ that were being launched.
She said that while the five-year settlement offered â€œsome certainty for contractors who want to plan for the future,â€ with flat funding against backdrop of rising costs â€œthe sector will no doubt be keenly watching how further details on services and payments are negotiated each year.â€
Ms Anderson said it was vital that pharmacists in all settings, including within Primary Care Networks, were enabled to help people get the most from their medicines, and for pharmacy leaders to engage with new NHS structures to â€œco-create the design and delivery of local servicesâ€.
Phoenix: A â€œcurateâ€™s eggâ€
Steve Anderson, group managing director of healthcare company Phoenix UK, welcomed the â€œgeneral direction of travel set out in the frameworkâ€ but added that it was â€œa bit of a curateâ€™s egg with funding cuts and future funding uncertaintiesâ€.
He said that while the sector knew that MUR and Establishment Payment funding streams would dry up, there was not yet â€œsufficient clarity about how funding will be redistributed for proposed new servicesâ€.
Due to rising costs such as inflation, the funding arrangement would be â€œin practice a funding cut in real terms,â€ Mr Anderson said.