NHS England has confirmed it plans to delegate much of its commissioning power to integrated care boards and said that by April 2023 all ICBs will be responsible for commissioning pharmaceutical services locally.
In a letter to integrated care system (ICS) leads last Thursday (July 22), NHS England & Improvement chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard said that assuming the Health and Care Bill is voted through by Parliament, NHSE anticipates that by April 2022 ICBs will “assume delegated responsibility for primary medical services” and will “be able to take on delegated responsibility for dental, general ophthalmic services and pharmaceutical services”.
By the following April, the expectation is that all ICBs will have assumed responsibility for commissioning pharmaceutical services.
Meanwhile, NHSE&I will continue to be responsible for “some specialised services” that must be commissioned centrally and will carry on identifying national priorities and developing national contracts.
Ms Pritchard said that in the coming months work will be ongoing to establish the financial framework for ICBs assuming delegated responsibility, as well as the “full, detailed scope of what will be delegated and what will be retained nationally and regionally”.
She added: “Our shared vision is for strong ICSs working with partners to lead the delivery of NHS care and the improvements for patients set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.
“This means empowered decision making at as local a level as possible, supported by coherent guidance and support, including the right incentives and frameworks, to meet the ‘triple aim’ of better health for everyone, better care for all patients and efficient use of NHS resources, both for local systems and for the wider NHS.”
Outgoing PSNC chief Simon Dukes said: “Integrated care systems are going to fast become a critical part of the local healthcare landscape for community pharmacy. While the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework will continue to be negotiated and set nationally, these new systems will pick up the administration of this from NHSE&I locally, as well as overseeing local healthcare priorities.
“PSNC is working to try to make it easier for pharmacy to gain a foothold in these newly reformed systems: we are looking forward to engaging with NHSE&I on this topic, and in all discussions we will work to protect pharmacy contractors from any risks as best we can.”