The community pharmacy funding settlement for 2018/2019, announced by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) on 22 October 2018, is “effectively a cut”, according to Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) English Pharmacy Board.
The PSNC confirmed that funding for the next year will be maintained at £2.59bn and that the sector will not face a previously planned funding cut of £33m. But Gidley said that inflation and rising workloads meant that, in real terms, it represented a cut. “It will do little to relieve the pressure on pharmacies and the teams they employ”, she added.
Gidley did welcome the fact that negotiation conversations have now started between PSNC and NHS England, adding that the RPS was now “facing into the challenges of the NHS long-term plan” and looked forward to “seeing developments move towards a contract based on services for next year’s settlement”.
Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, also described the settlement as, essentially, a funding cut.
“We completely understand what a tough time the community pharmacy sector is going through right now and empathise with pharmacy owners working within a contractual framework that has, in real terms, seen another cut in funding,” he said.
“This is why it’s important for the RPS to work hard with the PSNC, the other pharmacy bodies and NHS England, at pace, to describe a new future for the profession in England.”
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) also responded to the funding announcement, saying that by accepting the Department of Health and Social Care’s financial offer, the PSNC had demonstrated “a desire to develop constructive relationships with government, as the basis for positive developments in pharmacy policy and commissioning” — an approach the NPA described as “sensible”.
But the body said that the funding agreed for the remainder of the financial year would disappoint many of its members.
“It is clearer than ever that we need a long-term settlement, which gives more certainty and enables the kind of investment that is necessary for sustainable change and improvement.”