CPO remains tight-lipped on Pharmacy Integration Fund figures

Fund projections have been reduced by two-thirds and precise figures are only known to “a select few money people in NHS England”, RPS alleges.

keith ridge, right, with pharmacy minister Steve Brine and, left pharmacy head at the department of health Jeanette Howe

The head of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board has called on NHS England to show pharmacists more respect.

Sandra Gidley was speaking after chief pharmaceutical officer for England, Keith Ridge, told a meeting of the All Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) in Westminster that he was unable to reveal how much of the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PIF) had been spent and how much remained.

The PIF was originally proposed in December 2015 as part of the government’s plans to support the development of clinical pharmacy practice in a wider range of primary care settings. It was suggested then that it would amount to £300m by 2020–2022.

Ridge told the APPG, on Monday 30 October, that there had already been a “considerable commitment” from the PIF, which included 1,000 postgraduate diplomas, 2,000 independent prescribing qualifications, a new training pathway for pharmacists and technicians working in care homes, professional leadership programmes for 600 pharmacists and technicians and the urgent medicines service (NUMSAS).

But he stopped short of giving a precise breakdown of what each initiative had cost and what was left in the fund, saying: “I am not in a position to say what percentage of the overall fund has been spent so far. Where we are is that it is working quite well, it’s being funded so let’s see what happens in the future […] I am not in a position to be very clear about what the total fund is.”

Source: RPS

Speaking after the meeting, Sandra Gidley, head of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, called chief pharmaceutical officer for England, Keith Ridge’s lack of transparency “appalling”

Gidley said: “It’s appalling. The PIF has already been downgraded from £300m to £102m. I want to see the numbers. It’s far too opaque, there is no external reference group so nobody knows what is going on apart from a select few money people in NHS England. That to me, when you are spending public money, is completely wrong.

“It was a fund that was promised to pharmacy and we should know how it is being spent. Give us the respect we deserve as a profession please.”

The Pharmaceutical Journal has written to NHS England asking for a breakdown of the figures, after Ridge confirmed he would “be able to give some figures in correspondence.”

Ridge also confirmed, during the same meeting, that there would be no official response to the ‘Community pharmacy clinical services review’, commissioned from Richard Murray, director of policy at the think tank The King’s Fund, by NHS England, and published in December 2016.

The review was charged with recommending how to integrate pharmacy better as part of the primary care team, and how best to utilise pharmacy skills within evolving new models of care and sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) (
The Pharmaceutical Journal online
, 14 February 2017).

Its recommendations included a redesign of medicines use reviews (MURs) “to include ongoing monitoring and regular follow-up with patients” with multiple comorbidities, as well as those with single conditions. It also recommended that smoking cessation services be added to the national core contract and that NHS England set out its plans to expand the commissioning of local pharmacy minor ailment schemes.

At the time of its publication, Ridge described the Murray Review as a “very useful” report, indicating that the NHS locally and nationally “will want to consider many of the ideas the report lays out”. He has previously promised to provide a full response to the review but he told the APPG this week that “at present we are not intending to make any formal response [as] we do feel that by and large [the report] has been taken into account.”

He added: “The report makes some really important points about integration of community pharmacy into the NHS but we do feel that at present there is no need to make a formal response.”

Head of pharmacy at the Department of Health, Jeanette Howe, who was also at the meeting, said: “In terms of the Murray Review, it is already actively progressing transformation for pharmacy practice using Pharmacy Integration Fund proposals set out in the NHS Delivery Plan, published in March.

“I would expect the Murray Review to feed into future discussions around community pharmacy services. So I think work being taken forward is being taken forward in response to the Murray Review. We haven’t sat back and waited for a review.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, CPO remains tight-lipped on Pharmacy Integration Fund figures;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203857

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