Minister confirms proposed funding cuts will not be implemented from October

The proposed £170 million community pharmacy funding cut will not be implemented this October, pharmacy minister David Mowat has announced.

It had been expected that the cut would be implemented through changes in the October Drug Tariff, but the minister said in a recorded statement to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Annual Conference this morning that “we are not now going to be in a position to do that”.

Referring to the consultation on the proposals and policies set out by the Government in its letter of December 17th 2015, Mr Mowat said: “I think it is right that we spend the time, particularly me as an incoming minister, to make sure that we are making the correct decision and that what we do is going to be right for you, is going to be right for the NHS and right for the public more generally.”

No further detail was given and Mr Mowat said: “That is all I can say at the moment but clearly we want not to be implementing the change from October which was our original target.”

The minister also commented on the Community Pharmacy Forward View and supported a greater role for community pharmacy, saying: “Your profession I think rightly recognises that it needs to go further, away from just doing dispensing and into the services area, and there is a big contribution that you can make, particularly in areas such as long term conditions.”

Mr Mowat said he looked forward to working with community pharmacy, adding: “There is absolutely no question that whatever decisions are made in the weeks and months ahead that you have got a major contribution to make to the health service and to primary care in particular.” And he said there would be progress on the decriminalisation of dispensing errors in the short term.

The comments follow Mr Mowat’s appointment as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health in July, as well as months of campaigning by community pharmacy against the proposed funding cut and other changes.

PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe said:

“We are very pleased that the minister has decided to review the proposals set out in December 2015. The decision not to implement a funding cut this October will be a relief to contractors.

Community pharmacy has worked hard this year to make the case for the sector to be put to better to use to help both patients and the NHS; so although the future is still uncertain, it is very encouraging that the minister is listening to us and appears to recognise the contribution that we can make.

Of course the work does not stop now. We still have a case to make for the future of community pharmacy and PSNC will continue to put evidence and arguments to policy makers. This week we will launch the results of a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers which has monetised the social value of 12 community pharmacy services. This will add to the weight of evidence that we already have for the positive impact that pharmacy can and does have on health and social care, and we very much looking forward to seeing the minister at the launch.

We will continue to battle to ensure policy on community pharmacy is founded on an understanding of what we do now and what we can do to help our patients and communities manage their health needs.”

CPNY Chief Executive Officer Jack Davies said:

“This is testament to all the hard work and lobbying that contractors have undertaken with their MPs over recent months.  As a result of this, ministers are listening to community pharmacy’s concerns and are now aware of the vital role they play within the social fabric of communities.”