Community Pharmacy England (CPE) chief executive Janet Morrison has expressed concerns regarding the minimum number of consultations pharmacies will be required to deliver for the Pharmacy First service from October this year.

In order to receive a fixed payment of £1,000 per month, Pharmacy First providers in England need to deliver a minimum number of consultations for the new clinical pathways on a sliding scale, ranging from one in February to 30 in October.

The fixed £1,000 monthly payment is in addition to a £15 fee received for each consultation.

Speaking to delegates at the 2024 Sigma Conference by live video link, Ms Morrison revealed that in initial negotiations, the government wanted the minimum number of consultations to rise to 30 much sooner.

‘We just said, “That’s crazy, that’s ridiculous,” so we got it pushed back to October,’ she said.

Ms Morrison admitted to ‘major concerns’ around capacity and ‘how people will ramp up and whether or not they are going to get to that 30’.

The chief executive also raised concern over the requirements coming into force in March 2025 that will see payments for Pharmacy First, the expanded Pharmacy Contraception Service and the relaunched blood pressure check service bundled together – meaning pharmacies will need to provide all three to be eligible for the funding.

With the many pharmacies currently focusing on Pharmacy First, Ms Morrison expressed concern for ‘those that have not signed up to contraception’ and that are ‘not putting all their energies in that’.

She said CPE is ‘deeply concerned’ about both issues and ‘will argue very strongly about not withdrawing a payment’.

Ms Morrison also said that CPE will ‘keep an eye’ on the issues in terms of the arguments it might make for the 2024/25 settlements.

She added: ‘We have to make the case that actually you've got to keep investing in this infrastructure to enable us to continue to deliver a service that the public wants [and] I'm very aware of that.’