Community pharmacies in Wales will receive an additional £18.3m over a three-year funding settlement with the Welsh government.
In a statement, published on 16 June 2020, Vaughan Gething, health minister for Wales, said the settlement had been agreed before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the additional funding would “increase overall funding for the sector by £8.6m per year by 2022/2023”.
The Welsh government confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that the additional funding will bring the total value of the 2020/2021 Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework in Wales to £148.3m, rising to £151.2m in 2021/2022 and £154.2m in 2022/2023.
While the government has yet to publish further detail on how the funding will be distributed, Gething said funding would be provided “specifically to create and support roles for a community pharmacy lead in every primary care cluster”.
Funding is also expected to be provided “for pharmacists to train as independent prescribers and to support the development of pharmacy technicians”.
“We will also provide greater access to the Welsh GP record for pharmacists providing clinical services to support safe and effective care [and] roll out Wales’ national video consultation platform to pharmacies,” the statement added.
As part of the Welsh government’s plans for returning to business as usual following the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacies will pilot the use of the ‘Attend Anywhere’ video consultation software.
Meanwhile, plans for increased funding to train pharmacist prescribers follow on from a report written by advisors to the Welsh government in May 2019, which proposed plans for every community pharmacy to employ an independent prescriber by 2030.
Gething added in the statement that, while progress will be made on workforce development and the use of technology “in the remainder of this financial year, the pandemic will mean some of the actions we had hoped to take forward this year will now begin in earnest in April 2021”.
Russell Goodway, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Wales, said he was “pleased that our negotiations have led to a secure funding package for the next few years”.
“In these challenging times, it is good to be able to offer security and stability to the network,” he added.
“Our negotiations with Welsh government over reimbursement relating to additional steps taken during COVID-19 is ongoing and we are hopeful of a positive outcome there too.”
“In Wales, the community pharmacy network is both listened to and respected, and this is demonstrated yet again in this settlement”.
The Welsh government last increased funding for the profession in April 2019, when it announced an additional £1.4m for the 2018/2019 financial year, which was also expected to “secure further changes to the contractual arrangements in 2019/2020”.