Commenting on the recently published Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework Steve Anderson, PHOENIX UK Group Managing Director, said:
“The Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework published on Monday represents the biggest change the sector has faced since 2005. Over the next five years, it will fundamentally reshape community pharmacy both in terms of services provided and how those are remunerated.
Whilst we welcome the general direction of travel set out in the Framework, it is a bit of a Curate’s Egg with funding cuts and future funding uncertainties.
On a positive note, the commitment to introduce a more clinically-focused contract is one we should welcome. The Framework sets out a path for community pharmacy to provide more clinical services than at present and recognises the unique role which community pharmacy can and should play as a NHS partner delivering integrated local healthcare.
After years of debates and discussions about a service-based contract, we now know in greater detail what the expectations of the Government are. The Framework is the future agenda which the sector has signed up to and we need to embrace it and make it work in our best interests.
Whilst PHOENIX UK welcomes in principle a five year funding arrangement - as that provides a degree of certainty which has previously been lacking – the Framework raises more questions than it answers. It is disappointing that the Government has recognised the on-going importance of community pharmacy in delivering improved healthcare outcomes, but has decided not to invest in it.
We know with certainty which funding streams will cease – amounting to over £200m over the next 24 months - but we do not yet have sufficient clarity about how funding will be redistributed for proposed new services.
We also have to acknowledge that the funding arrangement is in practice a funding cut in real terms: as a result of inflation, wage increases, business rates, locum rates etc the sector’s cost base is rising and yet funding will remain flat over the five year period.
The carrot of clinical services being commissioned in the future is a progressive step, but the Framework offers little if any relief to the financial pressures facing community pharmacy now and in the years ahead.”