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National pharmacy contracts

Pharmacy minister says government willing to open negotiations on new pharmacy contract

Brine wrote to the All-Party Pharmacy Group confirming his interest in their work looking at community pharmacy and the management of long-term conditions.

Pharmacy minister Steve Brine has revealed that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will open negotiations on moving from a community pharmacy contract that rewards the dispensing of higher volumes of medicines to one that rewards care provided for patients.

A letter to the All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) confirming that negotiations would begin came in response to correspondence from Kevin Barron, chair of the APPG, sent earlier this year. Brine wrote that he was interested in the APPG’s work looking at community pharmacy and the management of long-term conditions.

Barron said he welcomed the pharmacy minister’s reply and said it represented “a strong indication” that the DH will come to the negotiating table with a real ambition to develop services that make the best use of the community pharmacy network for patients and the NHS.

“It’s been a long-standing aim of the [APPG] to move towards a contract that incentivises high quality care, rather than volumes of pills,” said Barron.

“It’s vital, now, that pharmacy and government put their heads together and commission the most effective services,” he added.

In his letter, Brine also acknowledged the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s (PSNC) proposals for the development of community pharmacy services, including the introduction of a care plan service, with pharmacists supporting patients with long-term conditions, as part of a new Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework.

The proposals were discussed at the PSNC’s January 2018 meeting, and put to the DHSC and NHS England.

“PSNC’s ambition is to move to a funding framework that fairly rewards community pharmacies for offering a wide range of patient care and services including the dispensing of medicines,” said PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe.

“This is in line with the sector’s shared vision for its future, and would include allowing pharmacies to offer more patient care, particularly for people with long-term conditions,” she added.

“The minister has given no detail on what the substance of our negotiations with the DHSC and NHS England for 2018/2019 will be, but we hope that we will be able to have substantive discussions on the future of community pharmacy.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204729

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