HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 17 March 2016

PSNC Update: Department of Health extends community pharmacy consultation period

PSNC, 16 March 2016


The Department of Health has confirmed it will extend its consultation on the community pharmacy funding cuts to 24 May. The decision follows a request from PSNC to give more time to work out the details of the cuts.


2 Month extension for pharmacy cuts consultation

C&D, Annabelle Collins, 15 March 2016


The government has extended its consultation on the pharmacy funding cuts by two months and will now close on May 24. Talks on the pharmacy integration fund, which will support pharmacists to work closer with GP practices, care homes and urgent care settings, will still formally finish on March 24.


Pharmacy consultation extended to avoid legal action, Burt hints at inquiry

Pharmacy Biz, Neil Trainis, 16 March 2016


Pharmacy Biz reports that Alistair Burt, Minister of State for Community and Social Care, stated that the extension to the consultation on pharmacy funding cut would allow more time to consult with PSNC. This statement was part of an inquiry in front of the All-Party Pharmacy Group.


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PSNC Update: Department of Health extends community pharmacy consultation period

PSNC, 16 March 2016


The Department of Health (DH) has confirmed that it will extend its consultation on community pharmacy in 2016/17 and beyond for two months until 24th May.


The decision follows a request for the extension from PSNC in order to give time to work through the complex proposals being consulted on.


The consultation was launched via a public letter to PSNC sent on 17th December 2015. The letter set out a number of proposals for the sector including a reduction in funding of £170m for 2016/17, plans to enable all pharmacies to have access to hub and spoke dispensing, and to encourage optimisation of prescription duration. DH had originally set 24th March as the closing date for the consultation on the plans.


Pharmacy minister Alistair Burt announced the extension during a meeting of the All Party Pharmacy Group today (16th March 2016). The minister said the Government saw real potential for greater use of community pharmacy and that the extension of the consultation would give more time for it to develop its proposals working with PSNC and informed by other stakeholders.


PSNC is in discussions with the DH and NHS England, seeking to understand more about the plans and to ensure that community pharmacy’s role is recognised and developed.


PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe commented:

“We are pleased that the Department of Health has agreed to our request for it to extend its consultation on the proposals for community pharmacy. The initial time given for a consultation of this scope and complexity was inadequate, and we had asked for a more realistic timescale. We will now continue our ongoing discussions with the Department of Health and NHS England, seeking to understand the rationale for the various proposals and to find ways to ensure that the services and value provided by community pharmacies are recognised and expanded in future.”


PSNC understands that DH will now hold another round of meetings with the stakeholders it first met with earlier this year but do not have any further details. We will be continuing our discussions with DH and NHS England. We would advise any LPCs with comments to make on the consultation to submit these as soon as possible. Contractors and their teams can continue to contribute to the campaign for community pharmacy, for example by supporting the Downing Street petition and sharing examples of the excellent patient care they are giving


Pharmacy consultation extended to avoid legal action, Burt hints at inquiry

Pharmacy Biz, Neil Trainis, 16 March 2016


The social care minister Alistair Burt appeared to concede to an All-Party Pharmacy Group inquiry into primary and community care today that the government extended its consultation on cuts to pharmacy funding to avert the possibility of legal action and said it would allow the profession more time to respond to the changes.


In what appeared to be an admission that the original consultation, which was due to end on March 24 but has now been extended to May 24, failed to give community pharmacy adequate time to respond, Burt said the extension would also give the government the time it needed to develop its plans with the PSNC.


It has emerged in recent days that eight clients represented by Charles Russell Speechlys are ready to take the government to court over the funding cuts and what David Reissner, a partner at the law practice, described as the lack of “a proper consultation.”


The PSNC said it asked the Department of Health to extend the consultation but it seems the threat of a legal battle may have spurred the government into a rethink.


“I want community pharmacy to continue to have a bright future and for the government to work collaboratively with the sector to deliver that future. That’s why I have announced that we’re extending the consultation period by two months,” Burt said.


“It will now close on the 24th of May. This will allow us more time to develop our proposals with the PSNC. This means that the early part of the consultation process will formally conclude on the 24th of March with the consultation on the Pharmacy Integration Fund.


“This is to enable arrangements for the distribution of money from the Fund to be put in place in the first part of the 2016-17 financial year. There will continue to be opportunities for reform and discussions about these arrangements.”


Burt added: “We want to make sure the consultation period feels as long as is necessary for people to make their responses.


“If we are to introduce the changes by October as we are bound to do, we’ll need to get a certain amount of time legally for those changes to be introduced and for people to have time to respond to the changes. That’s why we can’t go later than the 24th of May.


“Extending the period of consultation by a couple of months I hope demonstrates good faith on our part that we want to engage people.


“We want to make sure as many people as possible have an opportunity because the fine detail of this has to be worked out between the negotiators and the PSNC and that’s what’s going on at the moment.”


The extension to the consultation however looks like having no impact on the £170 million which the government has pledged to remove from pharmacy funding in 2016-17. Burt indicated that money was gone and ministers would not be swayed.


As far as community pharmacy is concerned, the challenge is to avoid bigger slices of revenue being taken in future.


“Savings have to be found across the board and that applies to pharmacy as well. It would be great to work in a world where everything new comes about because you put more money in and you can do more things with new things with new money,” Burt said.


“That can’t always be the case. And in pharmacy, the £2.63 billion still going in is not inconsiderable. But the savings that are found all over the NHS every day can’t exclude pharmacy.


“It is a general fallacy to believe that you can’t achieve more if actually less is being spent by government. If the whole of this debate is to be conducted solely under an argument ‘well, it’s all about this reduction in funding. If that reduction of funding wasn’t there we could move on,’ I’m afraid we can’t do that.


“The spending review has been settled and we are talking with the PSNC about how to deal with the consultation and the impact and to get movement and the changes we want to see.


“There is the Integration Fund, there is the (Pharmacy) Access Fund. There is an opportunity to do new things.”


Dr Keith Ridge, the chief pharmaceutical officer, also appeared before the inquiry and  expressed his belief that there are too many pharmacies, an admission that will fill the community pharmacy sector with apprehension.


“There are over 11,000 pharmacies in England and that’s a significant increase over the last few years. And that growth is paid for by the NHS,” he said.


“We believe these efficiencies can be made without compromising quality. We know there are more pharmacies than are necessary to maintain good access.”

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 17 March 2016

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