A new general practice funding contract will pay for each surgery in England to employ at least one pharmacist in its first year.
Practices will receive 70% of the money required to employ a pharmacist as part of a five-year agreement, worth almost £1bn, negotiated between NHS England and the British Medical Association (BMA), it was announced today (31 January).
The cash will fund ‘an army’ of 20,000 more staff, which will allow GP practices to work together with other healthcare professionals as part of a local ‘primary care network’.
As well as pharmacists, practices will be able to employ physiotherapists, paramedics, physician associates and social prescribing support workers.
NHS England hopes this will free up GPs to spend more time with patients.
‘Biggest funding boost in 15 years’
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘This five-year deal unarguably represents the biggest boost to primary care in more than fifteen years, giving patients more convenient services at their local GP surgery while breaking down the divide between family doctors and community health services.
‘It provides the practical foundation for the big service improvements in the NHS Long Term Plan. Patients across England – in towns, villages and cities – will all begin to see the benefits, beginning this year. And it allows us to keep all that’s best about British general practice while future-proofing it for the decade ahead.’
The NHS Long Term Plan, announced on 7 January, revealed a £4.5bn funding boost for GPs and community care. As part of the plans, NHS England will pilot a GP-to-pharmacy direct referral scheme later this year.
In October, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced a £2.692bn funding contract for community pharmacy that was largely unchanged from the previous agreement – which saw funding cut by millions.