Some of the money that could have been spent on the 2017/18 Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) was ‘deployed elsewhere’ to ‘meet pressures’ in the health system, according to NHS England.

The PhIF is a pot of funding designed to clinically integrate pharmacy within the wider NHS.

An NHS England spokesperson told The Pharmacist that 'other cost pressures within the system mean some of the money that could otherwise have been spent on the 2017/18 community pharmacy integration fund have had to be deployed elsewhere to meet those pressures.’

To date, NHS England has not confirmed how much potential PhIF funding was deployed elsewhere in the NHS.

‘Significant underspend’

In a letter written in December 2017, pharmacy minister Steve Brine agreed that there was a ‘significant underspend’ on the committed funding.

He added: ‘The programme didn’t commence until late 2016/17 and the role out of IT connections to community pharmacies meant that the full commitment for the NHS urgent medicines supply advances service (NUMSAS) was not spent.

‘In 2017/18, there was significant disruption to procurement processes caused by the pre-election period, the election and appointment of new ministers.

‘Given delays to other projects NHS England postponed the commencement of the care home work stream of the programme, which has meant that this year NHS England has again not spent the full funding it allocated to this programme.

Supporting pharmacy initiatives

According to NHS England, the PhIF supported a number of initiatives between 2016 and 2018 including:

- Clinical pharmacists in general practice

- The NHS urgent medicines supply advanced service (NUMSAS) – as of February 2018 there have been over 74,000 referrals from NHS 111 to community pharmacy since the pilot started in December 2016

- The community pharmacy referral service (CPRS), which refers people with minor illness directly from NHS 111 to a community pharmacy

- The care home pharmacy team deployment with 240 new pharmacist and pharmacy technician posts to be in place by Summer 2018

- Sixty-one new pharmacist posts created to work within the integrated urgent care hubs and NHS 111

- A number of training places funded through a commission with Health Education England (HEE) to support community pharmacy staff with post registration training, clinical leadership training and role specific training for new posts in primary care.

For a full break down of the PhIF spending in 2016/17, click here.

Plans for the future

Other projects that will continue to be funded include NUMSAS, the CPRS minor illness project, workforce development, GP clinical pharmacists and the integrated urgent care pharmacists programme.
This year, £20m is set aside for care homes with sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) developing plans by the end of April, according to NHS England.

NHS England told The Pharmacist that the fund is set to run until 2020/21, with £40m allocated to 2018/19.