Funding frozen for Welsh community pharmacy contract

A circular published by Community Pharmacy Wales says government negotiators “simply did not have the authority to put more money on the table at this time”.
Welsh pharmacy with shutters down

There will be no increase in funding for the Welsh ‘Community pharmacy contractual framework’ (CPCF) for 2024/2025, according to the Welsh pharmacy negotiator.

A circular published on 3 July 2024 by Russell Goodway, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW), said: “For 2024/2025, the ring-fenced total allocation is £165.134m”, which is the same as it was in 2023/2024. In 2022/2023, the funding was £158.8m.

“Welsh government negotiators informed CPW and NHS Wales in January [2024] that there would be a zero increase in CPCF funding in 2024/2025”, which led to negotiations being “more protracted than usual”, the circular added.

“[Government negotiators were also] unable to guarantee that community pharmacy would participate in the NHS Pay Review Body arrangements in the summer, as has been the case in the previous two years.”

Although pay review body recommendations do not apply to community pharmacy, previous funding increases have been in line with the recommendations.

“The CPW board determined that this was unacceptable and wanted to ensure that Welsh Government and NHS Wales were fully aware of the potential consequences of this decision and the adverse impact that it would have on the viability of community pharmacy businesses and on the sustainability of the community pharmacy network.

“CPW also made clear that pharmacies will be unable to continue the successful delivery of the provisions of ‘Presgripsiwn Newydd: A New Prescription‘ [government proposals for the future of community pharmacy in Wales, published in 2021] without a significant increase in funding going forward.”

The circular adds that negotiators “simply did not have the authority to put more money on the table at this time”.

“The only concession is an indication that they will look to see if there is an opportunity to increase funding following the release of the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations in the summer,” it added.

CPW confirmed there would be an increase in the amount of money available for the professional fees element of the contract, from £80m in 2023/2024 to £89m in 2024/2025.

The professional fee will also increase from 90p per item to £1.00 per item, with an additional temporary one pence for electronic prescribing service-related activities.

“A diary marker is being sent to contractors for a contractor event on Tuesday 16 July 2024 to allow CPW to explain the current position and to allow contractors to comment and raise any questions,” the circular concludes.

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said: “We have increased the CPCF funding by over £20m since reforms began in 2016/2017.

“Wide-ranging reforms were introduced as part of our pharmacy contract ‘Presgripsiwn Newydd: A New Prescription’, which has improved access to clinical services, reduced pressure on the NHS and provided clearer pathways to patients to access support they need.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2024, Vol 313, No 7987;313(7987)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.323221

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