The uplift to this year's GP contract will 'significantly challenge' the ability of practices to maintain services, the president of the Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA) has told The Pharmacist.

The 2024/25 GP contract arrangements, unveiled by NHS England last week, set out a 2.23% increase in funding for general practice – an increase in investment of £259m taking overall contract investment to £1,186m.

From this, all staff employed directly by practices will get a 2% pay increase, and the total funding for staff employed under the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) will also be increased by 2%.

But Dr Graham Stretch, PCPA president and a pharmacist partner in a GP surgery, told The Pharmacist that the increase was ‘well below inflationary pressures’ and suggested it would ‘significantly challenge practices’ ability to maintain services and (non-ARRS) staffing’.

‘Pharmacists in primary care continue to practice in a difficult financial situation,’ Dr Stretch added.

And he wished both the GP negotiator the British Medical Association General Practitioners Committee (BMA GPC) and the community pharmacy negotiator Community Pharmacy England (CPE) well in their negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) going forwards.

Meanwhile, Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA), said: 'Like all areas of the NHS, the government need to fund GP practice properly so that pharmacists and other health professionals are practicing in suitably resourced clinical settings and receiving pay rates which retain or improve their real terms value.'

He added: 'GP practice is not immune to recruitment and retention issues and we know from surveying PDA members that pharmacists in any sector may be thinking of moving to a new role.'

The contractual arrangements also removed 'all caps' on the number of ‘direct patient care roles’ and advanced clinical practitioners (ACPs) that each PCN can recruit, within their funding envelope.

A new role of ‘enhanced nurses’ has also been added to the ARRS, while NHS England has confirmed that ARRS funding will not be spent on GPs as they are ‘not [an] additional’ role.

This article was amended at 15:50pm on 6 March 2024 to seek further clarification on the removal of caps on ARRS roles.