The Department of Health (DH) has agreed to extend its consultation into community pharmacy cuts by two months until 24 May 2016.

Pharmacy minister Alistair Burt announced the new date during a meeting of the All Party Pharmacy Group following a request for more time made by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

He said the government saw real potential for greater use of community pharmacy and that the extension of the consultation would give more time for it to develop its proposals working with PSNC and informed by other stakeholders.

The DH had originally set 24 March 2016 as the consultation deadline.

PSNC chief executive, Sue Sharpe, commented: “We are pleased that the Department of Health has agreed to our request for it to extend its consultation on the proposals for community pharmacy.

“The initial time given for a consultation of this scope and complexity was inadequate, and we had asked for a more realistic timescale.

“We will now continue our ongoing discussions with the Department of Health and NHS England, seeking to understand the rationale for the various proposals and to find ways to ensure that the services and value provided by community pharmacies are recognised and expanded in future.”

The consultation was launched via a public letter to PSNC sent on 17th December 2015.

The letter set out a number of proposals for the sector including a reduction in funding of £170m for 2016/17, plans to enable all pharmacies to have access to hub and spoke dispensing, and to encourage optimisation of prescription duration.

PSNC understands that DH will now hold another round of meetings with the stakeholders it first met with earlier this year.