Most contractors will likely not have the capacity to provide the new contraception service at first, despite the service’s delayed start, because of the ‘massive pressure’ currently on the sector, PSNC has said.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced that the new Pharmacy Contraception Service will not commence on 13 January, as originally planned, but at a later date in early 2023 to allow community pharmacy IT system suppliers to develop the necessary IT support.

However, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at PSNC, said PSNC doesn’t ‘expect many pharmacies will have the capacity to provide the service as soon as it commences’, due to ‘massive pressure as a result of patient demand, a funding squeeze and workforce shortages’.

He added: ‘We sought a delay to the start of the service to allow time for the necessary IT support to be developed, so where contractors do have the capacity to provide the service, they can do so with fully functioning IT to support its delivery.’

The specification for the service was published on Friday, including training requirements, which Mr Buxton said would allow contractors and their teams to ‘consider whether it is something they will have the capacity to provide in due course’.

PSNC said that now community pharmacy IT system suppliers need time to develop support for the service, including updating IT systems to allow contractors to make clinical records for the service and to make payment claims and share data with the NHS Business Services Authority.

The Pharmacy Contraception Service, which was announced in the most recent Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) will see pharmacists able to provide ongoing management of routine oral contraception that was initiated in general practice or a sexual health clinic.

PSNC has also recently published the initial list of price concessions for December 2022, which does not include the antibiotics listed in recent Supply Shortage Protocols.

It said that it is still working with the Department of Health and Social Care to finalise prices for several drugs not listed in the initial concessions, including some antibiotics which were reported to be unavailable at the prices listed in the December 2022 Drug Tariff. It added that as soon as prices are finalised, these will be cascaded to contractors via PSNC’s website and email alerts.

Last year, Jacqueline Campbell – director, superintendent pharmacist and IP at Pritchards Pharmacy, Prestatyn – talked to The Pharmacist about her oral contraception supply service.