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HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 19 October 2016

‘No final decision’ made on funding cut, says government
18 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Grace Lewis and Annabelle Collins

The Department of Health are still considering the implementation of proposed 12% cuts to pharmacy funding in England. A spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed that no final decision had been made on the matter. This followed the rejection of the Government’s proposals by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC). Sue Sharpe, Chief Executive of the PSNC said there had been no real consultation between the two parties around the funding package.

Pharmacy Minister signals concessions on pharmacy cuts, under fire from MPs
18 October 2016, National Pharmacy Association

During a Parliamentary debate, Members of Parliament from both sides of the House of Commons spoke out against the proposals to cut pharmacy funding by 12%. Under intense questioning Pharmacy Minister, David Mowat, made a commitment to ensure that no community in England will be left without a community pharmacy. National Pharmacy Association Chairman, Ian Strachan, called for a detailed analysis that can back up the commitments David Mowat made to the Members of Parliament. Mr. Strachan also said that a change of heart from the Department of Health towards a more positive course of action would be welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry.

This was also reported by the Dispensing Doctors Association

 

Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons Questions; Pharmacy, 18 October 2016

Health

 

Michael Dugher: (a) on how many occasions during the most recent negotiation period Ministers and officials of his Department met with representatives from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and (b) when he plans to announce a funding package for community pharmacy for 2016-17.

Department of Health

David Mowat:

Since 9 September 2016, when a revised package of measures was put to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiation Committee (PSNC), the Department, supported by NHS England, has met the PSNC on four occasions. I have met PSNC three times since 30 August 2016, including on 6 October 2016.

Ministers are still in a process of considering a proposed package for the community pharmacy sector and are expecting to make an announcement shortly.

Full Coverage

‘No final decision’ made on funding cut, says government

18 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Grace Lewis and Annabelle Collins

 

Ministers are still considering whether to implement the 12% cut to pharmacy funding, according to the Department of Health (DH).

“No final decision has been taken” on the proposed funding “package” for the sector, a DH spokesperson told C+D last Friday (October 14).

The DH spoke to C+D after the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) rejected the government’s proposals to slash pharmacy funding in England by 12% for December 2016 until March 2017.

“Preposterous” proposals

In a letter sent to the DH’s head of pharmacy Jeannette Howe last week (October 13), PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe Sharpe said the decision to give pharmacists just six weeks’ notice to prepare for a 12% cut to their funding is “preposterous”, and the government’s proposals “were and remain, founded on ignorance”.

Ms Sharpe also said there had been “no real consultation” around the funding package between the two parties.

However, the DH told C+D it had “worked collaboratively” with PSNC and had “listened to [its] suggestions and counter proposals”.

“We are committed to offering more help to those pharmacies people most depend on‎ compared to others,” the DH spokesperson added.

The DH also told C+D that the government aims to “modernise the pharmacy sector”. “That’s why we are investing £112m to deliver a further 1,500 pharmacists in general practice by 2020,” it said.

A leaked document shared with C+D on Sunday (October 16) revealed that just one in 10 pharmacies in England will be given financial support as part of the government’s planned fund to provide relief from the cuts.

Three days earlier, the National Pharmacy Association said government plans to allow pharmacists to supply emergency medication without GP approval were a “smoke screen” for the funding cuts.

 

Pharmacy Minister signals concessions on pharmacy cuts, under fire from MPs

18 October 2016, National Pharmacy Association

 

MPs from both sides of the House of Commons savaged proposals to cut pharmacy services, during a parliamentary debate this week (Monday 17 October).  Under intense questioning from his own colleagues as well as Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, Pharmacy Minister David Mowat appeared to make a series of significant concessions.

Amongst other commitments was an assurance that no community in England will be left without a pharmacy and that people will, at worst, need to travel only “tens of metres” further to access pharmaceutical care, under his plans.

Pharmacy leaders moved quickly today to seek details from the Department of Health, based on the assurances given to the House of Commons.

National Pharmacy Association Chairman, Ian Strachan, said:

“The Minister made a number of startling claims about the likely effect of his policies.  We will hold him to his assurances about access to pharmaceutical care, including for people in deprived communities.  We want to see the detailed analysis behind the commitments he made to MPs.  If by his assurances he is signalling a change of heart, we welcome it.  Even at this late stage, he can seize the opportunity to take a new and positive course of action, to work with the sector and do what’s right for patients and the NHS.”

 

Pharmacy minister under pressure over cuts

18 October 2016, Dispensing Doctors Association, Ailsa Colquhoun

 

Pharmacy minister David Mowat was unable to rule out the closure of pharmacies on GPs’ doorsteps in a highly pressured question time in Parliament yesterday.

In a 40-minute session he came under intense pressure from cross-party MPs and at times was seen to stumble over accusations that his policy on pharmacy funding was “inchoate”, “indefensible” and “all over the place”.

Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, said the minister had been “sold a hospital pass” by his predecessor in charge of pharmacy policy, Alistair Burt.

He described Mr Mowat’s performance in the House that day as “courageous”.

In the session, which followed an urgent question asked by Labour MP Michael Dugher (Barnsley East), the minister was held to account over his refusal to rule out cuts to pharmacies’ funding. These were described by the MP as “massive” and “arbitrary”. A document widely leaked to the national press states that as many as 1,620 pharmacies in rural areas face closure following the new financial package for pharmacies. This package is not expected to affect the remuneration for the GP dispensing service.

Ministers are expected to unveil a large cut in community pharmacy funding in the next few days, as well as details of the access fund that will support pharmacies deemed essential, including those in rural areas. It is understood that the access scheme will support only 1,380 pharmacies across England’s deprived and rural areas.

Despite intense pressure to reveal the details of the planned closures, the minister said that he was not “in a position to announce [its] final form or shape” but that he could confirm that “no community will be left without a pharmacy”.

Mr Mowat said the intention of the pharmacy funding package was to move the profession from a dispensing model to one based on services. As part of this pharmacies in England would be commissioned to provide a minor ailments service by 2018, he pledged.

But PSNC, which negotiates the NHS funding for pharmacies in England, described the funding offer as “reckless” and “will see patients suffer as services are withdrawn”. It has rejected the offer.

According to PSNC, the proposals:

  • Reduce funding from December 2016 to March 2017 by 12 per cent on current levels, to set funding for this year at £2.687 billion
  • Reduce funding for 2017-18 by 7.4 per cent on current levels, to set funding at £2.592bn.

Anna Soubry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, and a former health minister, told the minister that if ever there was an argument to increase the role of pharmacies – “it’s now”.

The minister responded that the NHS had a duty to reduce it’s spend on pharmacies that were all located in the same area. He told the House: “There won’t be anything like 3,000 closures” and he said the Government fully understood “the situation in rural communities.” He said: “The central part is that everybody has a baseline distance to travel to a pharmacy and everyone can access a pharmacy within a reasonable time”. Although he would not define “reasonable” he said that no one would have an appreciably longer distance to travel to a pharmacy than they do now: “perhaps, tens of metres more, if any”, he said.

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 19 October 2016

From Factory to Pharmacy

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