29 / 11 / 2016
Community pharmacy in 2016/17 and beyond: final package
Department of Health, October 2016
The Department of Health and NHS England have announced details of the package of reforms to the community pharmacy contractual framework to be implemented from December 2016. This follows an open letter to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and other stakeholders published on 17 December 2015.
A consultation was held (ending in May 2016) and further consideration was given to the proposals before the final package was presented to the PSNC in September 2016. PSNC did not accept the package of changes. Key elements are set out below:
The funding settlement has been confirmed for both 2016/17 and 2017/18. In 2016/17 funding will reduce by 4 per cent to £2.687bn, and by a further 3.4 per cent to £2,592bn in 2017/18.
A single activity fee will subsume a number of dispensing-related payments, namely:
- professional fee (aka dispensing fee)
- practice payment
- repeat dispensing payment
- electronic prescription service (EPS) payment.
- The one-off EPS R2 payment will also cease from April 2017.
- Establishment payments will be phased out by 2019/20, beginning with a 20 per cent monthly reduction from 1 December 2016, and a further 20 per cent from 1 April 2017.
- A Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) will be introduced to protect patient access in areas where provision is already sparse and patients are more heavily dependent on community pharmacy services. Qualifying pharmacies will be eligible for top-up payments to mitigate the impact of the cuts.
- A quality payments scheme will be introduced, with pharmacies needing to pass gateway criteria before earning points for meeting various quality criteria
- An urgent medicines supply scheme will be piloted, led by NHS England and funded from the pharmacy integration fund. Patients calling NHS 111 requiring urgent supplies of repeat medicines without a prescription will be referred directly to pharmacy
- Changes to market entry requirements to facilitate consolidation of pharmacies via merging or closing branches
In addition to the above, DH are working with PSNC on changes and improvements to drug reimbursement arrangements. DH are also considering how improvements could be made to digital prescription ordering systems and intend to explore new terms of service for distance-selling pharmacies. NHS England will be administering the Pharmacy Integration Fund, and plan to pilot services including the urgent medicines supply scheme (see above) and an urgent minor illness care service.