PSNC responds to funding announcement for general practice

PSNC responds to funding announcement for general practice

February 7, 2020

The Government, NHS England and the British Medical Association (BMA) have agreed the details of the General Practice Contract for 2020/21.

Funding for the contract includes a commitment to invest an additional £1.5 billion in total for general practice over the next four years to help in delivering 50 million more appointments by 2024. The money will be used to increase the number of doctors in general practice by 6,000 and bring in 26,000 additional staff such as pharmacists.

In return, GP practices will be required to:

  • Provide regular visits for care home residents;
  • Increase uptake of vaccinations;
  • Expand social prescribing referrals;
  • Improve prescription safety checks; and
  • Offer more check-ups for new mums.

PSNC Chief Executive, Simon Dukes, commented:

“Whilst investment into primary care is always welcome, this latest general practice funding deal will hardly feel like good news to community pharmacies. Channelling all investment into primary care via general practice is a crude response to the much wider problem of rising demand for healthcare and the strain on resources in the NHS. We know that GP practices are struggling, and we want to see the NHS looking further afield, and thinking about how best to use all providers of NHS services alongside GPs, for solutions.

One of the key priorities of the Secretary of State and current Government is prevention. This is a long-neglected area but one which is becoming increasingly important if we are to tackle the rising pressures on all health services. To have an impact, the NHS must start investing in this area through community pharmacies. Pharmacies already see some 1.6 million people every day: investing in services that make the most of these interactions and indeed drive more of them could mean that every person in England is regularly seen by a health professional close to their home, helping them to stay healthy and avoid the need to see GPs and other health services in the first place.

It is also encouraging to see the NHS recognising the value of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, but the impact of investment in further roles for them linked to general practice will be negative for community pharmacies. It will create yet more demand for pharmacy staff and raise the cost of labour, a position which seems all the more untenable given the complete refusal of the Government and NHS to recognise pharmacies’ costs in delivering their ambitions set out in the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).

PSNC will be examining the deal in detail and looking very carefully at the possible impacts on community pharmacy and how, as a sector, we can mitigate some of the risks. We have already begun preparation for the first annual review process, making the case for the sector’s costs and capacity with regards to the CPCF, and some of these factors will undoubtedly feed into those discussions. But overall we think this deal will put yet more financial stress on a sector that is in an increasingly unsustainable fiscal environment, increasing the risk that we will see further pharmacy closures happening randomly and affecting those patients who need their community pharmacists the most.”

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