Community Pharmacy England (CPE) has considered what its ‘red lines’ in negotiations would be, according to notes from its latest committee meeting.

The notes also revealed plans for a ‘Pharmacy Advice Audit’ in ‘the coming months’ to measure the wider impact of Pharmacy First in driving people into pharmacies.

Negotiations with the government on the next Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) were originally hoped to conclude in time for the new financial year in April, but are ‘still in progress’, CPE said.

In an update on its latest committee meeting on 17 and 18 April, CPE added that its full committee had considered 'the detailed current negotiating position, including red lines and priorities’, to inform the ongoing discussions.

And it outlined its ongoing calls for:

  • an uplift to the core global sum
  • margin write-offs
  • an agreed mechanism for regular funding increases linked to activity and inflation
  • annual uplifts to service fees
  • more fundamental reform of the margin delivery framework
  • an economic review of the medicines supply chain.

The next CPCF is expected to be a one-year interim arrangement, and is not expected to bring 'significant clinical service proposals' from government and the NHS, CPE has said previously.

Commenting on the meeting, CPE chief executive Janet Morrison said that the ongoing negotiations on the next CPCF were ‘complex’, and taking place ‘against a backdrop of challenging primary care funding settlements and constrained public spending’.

She said CPE’s negotiating team were ‘working hard to get the best deal on the table’ for the next CPCF as well as preparing to make a case for the sector ahead of the spending review that is expected shortly after the upcoming general election.

‘This is alongside influencing work to build support for investment in pharmacy across all political parties and candidates,’ Ms Morrison added.

She also praised the ‘phenomenal’ efforts of pharmacy teams to implement Pharmacy First, adding that the service was already having a ‘positive impact for patients’.

‘But we know that challenges remain – and we will continue to push DHSC and NHS England to address these and to drive awareness of this strategically important service,’ Ms Morrison said.

CPE will launch a ‘Pharmacy Advice Audit’ in ‘the coming months’ to measure the wider impact of Pharmacy First in driving people to pharmacies, Ms Morrison said.

‘And we of course remain focused on continuing to warn government and the NHS that community pharmacy businesses remain at crisis point, and raising red flags about the clear and present danger to pharmacies and to patient care,’ Ms Morrison added.

At the meeting, the committee also considered the results of CPE’s annual Pharmacy Pressures survey, which are yet to be published publicly.

‘As expected, they paint a picture of a community pharmacy sector in deep distress, with direct knock-on impacts for patients, adding to the weight of evidence that we already have on this,’ CPE said.

Ms Morrison said the ‘distressing findings’, which demonstrate the ‘desperate state of the sector’, ‘came as no surprise’ to the committee.

‘All attention in the room was centred on how to find solutions and assure the sustainability of community pharmacies for this year and beyond,’ she added.