The upcoming pharmacy contract will move away from the current dispensing-led model and towards rewarding good care, the pharmacy minister has told a group of MPs.

In a letter addressed to All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) chair Sir Kevin Barron, Steve Brine said that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will negotiate a contract that rewards patient care instead of dispensing a higher volume of drugs.

The announcement comes in response to an earlier letter from Sir Kevin to Mr Brine and after an ongoing APPG’s investigation into community pharmacy services for people with long-term conditions.

‘Most effective service’

Sir Kevin said: ‘It’s vital that pharmacy and the Government put their heads together and commission the most effective service’.

‘I welcome the pharmacy minister’s response to my most recent letter.

‘This is a strong indication that the DHSC will come to the negotiation table with a real ambition to develop services that make the best use of the community pharmacy network for patients and the NHS.

‘It’s been a long-standing aim of the group to move towards a contract that incentivises high quality care, rather than volumes of pills.’

Funding negotiations  

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said that although it does not yet have a ‘mandate’ to begin formal negotiations on pharmacy funding for 2018/19 with the Government, it hopes these will begin ‘soon’.

PSNC argued that some patients with long-term conditions would benefit from a community pharmacy care plan, which would give them more support and help them get the best outcomes from their medicines and better manage their conditions.

Responding to the minister’s comment, PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said: ‘PSNC’s ambition is to move to a funding framework that fairly rewards community pharmacies for offering a wide range of patient care and services including the dispensing of medicines.

‘This is in line with the sector’s shared vision for its future, and would include allowing pharmacies to offer more patient care, particularly for people with long-term conditions.

‘Given the very difficult financial situation that many community pharmacy contractors now find themselves in it is vital that we start to make meaningful progress towards achieving the sector’s vision.’