Today has seen the publication of both the arrangements for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) in 2022/23 and 2023/24 alongside a package of measures by the new health secretary – both of which have implications for the pharmacy sector.

Pharmacies to offer more services

Health secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey’s Our Plan for Patients published earlier today revealed plans to expand the range of services available from community pharmacies and for pharmacies to be able to manage and supply more medicines without a prescription from a GP, such as contraception.

Pharmacy Contraception Service

As outlined in the CPCF agreement, this will see the phased launch of a new Pharmacy Contraception Service from 11 January 2023, enabling community pharmacists to provide ongoing management of routine oral contraception that was initiated in general practice or a sexual health clinic. This will involve a fee for each consultation of £18 and a set-up fee of £900, paid in instalments.

Initiating oral contraception

From 4 October 2023, community pharmacists are expected to be able to also initiate oral contraception and provide ongoing clinical checks and annual reviews.

NMS extended to antidepressants

From 19 April 2023, subject to evaluation of an ongoing pilot, the New Medicines Service (NMS) will be expanded to include antidepressants to enable newly prescribed patients to receive extra support from their community pharmacist.

Minor ailments referrals from emergency care

The plan will also see pharmacies take referrals from emergency care for minor illnesses or symptoms, such as a cough, headache or sore throat from March 2023. The fee will be the existing Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) fee of £14.

Technicians – BP check and smoking cessation

The service specifications for the Blood Pressure Check Service and Smoking Cessation Services will also be amended to allow delivery by pharmacy technicians.

CPCF funding statement

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England have agreed that no further new services will be introduced or expanded within the current CPCF funding envelope. No changes will be made to fee levels.

A new community pharmacy offer

£100 million excess margin write-off

The CPCF deal included an extension of the transitional payment of up to £70m per year, and a one-off £100m excess margin write-off for contractors. This means that Drug Tariff prices will be relatively higher in the new year, allowing the sector to keep an additional £100m that would otherwise have been paid back to the government.

Pharmacy Quality Scheme changes

Contractors can take part in the Pharmacy Quality Schemes (PQS) in both years, but its scope has been reduced to reflect ‘workload and capacity constraints’. The Year 5 scheme is already agreed, and the requirements will be published ahead of this.

Patient satisfaction questionnaire axed

The requirement to undertake an annual patient satisfaction questionnaire has already been removed, effective immediately. This follows a previous announcement that contractor completion of an annual Health Education England workforce survey would become mandatory to assist workforce planning.

Adjustments to rules on opening

The required notification period for changes to supplementary hours will be reduced and there will also be changes to the Pharmacy Manual on fitness information, emergency closures and changing core hours.

Hub and spoke legislation promised

According to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), DHSC also indicated that there will be legislative changes following the consultations on hub and spoke dispensing and original pack dispensing, and that it will be launching a consultation on skill mix in pharmacies.

Independent economic review for pharmacy to come

In advance of the next CPCF negotiations, an independent economic review of community pharmacy businesses will take place, and the DHSC has also committed to review the implementation of the price concession system.