The president of the Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA) has said he 'would not wish' Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) or Pharmacy First funding 'to be subsumed' into core general practice funding, as called for recently by the Doctors' Association UK (DAUK).

In a 10-point manifesto presented to prospective MPs last week, the DAUK’s GP committee suggested that the next government should invest £3 per month per patient into general practice to ‘achieve a return to real terms funding last seen in 2015’.

However, it said this ‘does not need to be new money’ and can be reallocated from the ARRS, Pharmacy First and acute care hub pilots.

During the webinar, attended by our sister title Pulse, DAUK’s vice chair Dr Ellen Welch said: ‘The £2bn that has been spent on inefficient schemes which fragment care such as the Pharmacy First scheme and ARRS can be reallocated and reinvested into core general practice.

‘I think any additional staff members such as pharmacists, social prescribers, physios, they’re all very useful when they’re present – in addition to GPs.

‘We have the unbelievable paradox where GPs are currently out of work. So we need the additional schemes to help with exactly that and for the investment to be in GPs.

‘We need the freedom to use our budgets for the things that work. We need to aim to increase GP numbers so that we have safer ratios of patients to doctors.’

And Dr Steve Taylor, a GP in Manchester and member of DAUK’s GP committee, claimed that Pharmacy First appointments, which are intended to reduce GP appointments, 'actually cost more'.

Responding to the comments, PCPA president Graham Stretch, who is a pharmacist partner in a GP surgery, told The Pharmacist that he 'would not wish' the ARRS and Pharmacy First funding 'to be subsumed' into core general practice funding.

'This ARRS funding has transformed the delivery of primary care in England,' he said.

'ARRS funding has facilitated, trained and supported the roles of tens of thousands of professionals who deliver expertise, safety and capacity in PCNs [primary care networks] and general practice, including thousands of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

'Instead I would give my wholehearted support to restoration of the core GP contract to 2015 levels adjusted for inflation, this would support general practice whilst continuing our delivery of enhanced multidisiplinary care in PCNs/general practice,' he said.

Meanwhile, James Davies, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director for England, told The Pharmacist that 'pharmacies and GP practices both need further investment'.

And he said that 'as demand from patients continues to rise', the wider primary care team 'has to be part of the solution to GP access challenges'.

He noted that pharmacists recruited through ARRS 'have made a huge difference for patients'.

And he added: 'Pharmacies and GP practices both need further investment. With the huge pressures that the NHS is under, healthcare professionals need to support one another to work towards providing the best care for our patients and direct their calls about funding towards the government.

'We need a strategic approach to workforce planning across the system, backed by the ongoing investment needed to deliver high-quality patient care.'

Read more: One pharmacist partner in a general practice says adding GPs to ARRS is not the way forward

The DAUK manifesto and parts of this article were previously reported by our sister publication, Pulse.