A new £4.5bn GP contract should provide incentive for community pharmacists to work more closely with local surgeries, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.
In the almost £1bn deal, practices in England will receive 70% of the money required to employ a pharmacist as part of the five-year agreement, it was announced today (31 January).
The cash will fund ‘an army’ of 20,000 more staff including pharmacists, physiotherapists, paramedics, physician associates, allowing GP practices to work together with other healthcare professionals as part of local ‘primary care networks’ (PCNs) serving 30,000-50,000 patients registered to practices.
Reacting to the news, PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes encouraged the sector to integrate themselves more closely with GP practices.
He said: ‘All pharmacies will need to take steps to work as closely with local GPs as they can...GPs will be bringing together local healthcare providers into the new networks and we must engage proactively with them and find ways to position ourselves within those PCNs.'
'Full involvement of pharmacy'
Mr Dukes said community pharmacists should take the deal as 'a very clear indication' of how the Government envisages the future of primary care.
He said: ‘Success will also involve transforming the services that we offer, and community pharmacies will need to be ready for radical changes, such as partnering with other contractors to jointly meet the needs of their local PCN.’
The negotiating body aims for community pharmacists to be 'fully involved' in PCNs, Mr Dukes added.
He said: 'We must find ways for community pharmacists to perform some of the roles of the PCN clinical pharmacists and we want to work with NHS England to facilitate local engagement to ensure that community pharmacy is at the heart of the developing local plans.
'The role of local leadership and engagement will also become more critical than ever, and PSNC will be working with the LPCs to help them through this difficult work, ensuring that they have the skills, capacity and support to succeed.'
The NHS Long Term Plan, announced on 7 January, revealed a £4.5bn funding boost for GPs and community care. As part of the plans, NHS England will pilot a GP-to-pharmacy direct referral scheme later this year.
In October, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced a £2.692bn funding contract for community pharmacy that was largely unchanged from the previous agreement – which saw funding cut by millions.