Lack of pharmacy involvement in Better Care Fund planning down to bureaucratic burden, say LPC chiefs.

Pharmacists are not applying for the Better Care Fund (BCF) as they are discouraged by the amount of bureaucracy involved.

The BCF was was announced by the government in June 2013, offering local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGS) £5.3bn to incentivise integrated working in the community to work more closely around people, placing their well-being as the focus of health and care services” by NHS England (NHSE).

“It’s a long drawn out process,” said CEO of Nottinghamshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC), Nick Hunter.

“We’ve spent the last six months working on a BCF-funded falls prevention scheme with the local authority and CCG and have only just submitted it.

“A lot of areas probably lack the stamina to see it through. You get to the point where you ask yourself is it worth it? Because if I put this time, effort and energy into dispensing prescriptions then I can make just as much money doing that and I’m secure - it’s a safe income.

“The proposal is quite complicated and more akin to a business case. The summary alone is 15 pages.”

CEO of Essex LPC, Ash Pandya, agreed and attributed the lack of pharmacy interest in the BCF to the fact that planning is “very much” clinical commissioning group (CCG) led.

“There is not a single pharmacy representation on the five CCGs, and they haven’t quite grasped how pharmacy can fit in.

“CCGs have more of a say in what is applied for in the BCF, pharmacists have to toe the line,” he said.

Chair of Manchester LPC, Aneet Karpoor, said the LPC had looked at bids on applying for the BCF but due to time constraints and lack of support and resource from NHSE, it was “very difficult” for us to actually do.

“Pharmacists would like to be more involved in services financed through the BCF. When you talk about alleviating pressures on the NHS, pharmacists are a massively under used resource for that. Too much paperwork and being able to gain access to this money is an issue,” he said.

“Manchester City council have had massive cuts in funding and with new budgets announced, they have a £6m deficit to plug. This in turn has impacted pharmacists and our services in public health.”