The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has called on the government to give community pharmacy a multi-year funding settlement following its decision to hand general practice a five-year contract.
The government’s radical reform of general practice will see a range of healthcare professionals including pharmacists based in GP surgeries form primary care networks which will attempt to improve local healthcare systems across England.
The programme is being funded by an extra £4.5 billion which will be invested in community services by 2023 as part of the NHS long-term plan.
Whilst NHS England has been keen to fund GP pharmacists in recent years, there have been concerns over the way it has viewed community pharmacists despite the fact they are ideally placed to meet the health needs of people in deprived local communities.
The NPA said the five-year GP contract should be replicated in community pharmacy and insisted a multi-year settlement should form the basis of the PSNC’s funding talks with the government.
“This new contract gives GPs a five-year settlement and community pharmacy should have the same, so that pharmacy owners can plan ahead, with more confidence to invest in staff and services,” an NPA spokesperson said.
“Our sector has consistently delivered for patients and the NHS and deserves a substantial and sustainable multi-year settlement. We need this to be the basis upon which community pharmacy contract negotiations begin.
“Now that the GP contract negotiations have concluded, we are eager to see progress on the NHS plan commitment to make greater use of community pharmacy to engage patients. Ministers, government officials and NHS commissioners have all signalled that they would like to see community pharmacies playing a still greater role in urgent care and illness prevention.”
The NPA said that although it welcomed the additional funding, community pharmacy owners were faced with the dilemma of investing time and money in pharmacists only to see them “migrate to general practice.”
The spokesperson added: “This is a risk that must be carefully managed, so that these new primary care workforce targets genuinely add to capacity.
“We want to see the clinical potential of all pharmacists liberated, especially those available without appointment at convenient hours, in community pharmacies right across the country. Investment in pharmacy-based support can deliver benefits for many more patients, conveniently and at lower cost than pharmacists deployed in GP surgeries.”
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