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Economy Economy

Support pharmacies in rural areas

Last updated: 11:39am 29 October 2019

We will support pharmacies and village schools in rural areas.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.26

Our verdict

Community pharmacies (historically known as “chemists”) are a key element in contemporary models of health and social care. However, funding for pharmacies in rural areas was cut by 4% in 2016-17, and by a further 3.4% in 2017-18. Moreover, in March 2017 the Essential Small Pharmacies, Local Pharmaceutical Services (ESPLPS) scheme was closed, significantly reducing financial backing. This policy is a promise to support rural pharmacies, with no reference to detailed measures or implementation timelines. We’re looking at existing schemes, those being developed, or those which have been scrapped since the manifesto was published.

In July 2019, the government published the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework. It takes effect from October 2019 and commits the government to providing funding of £2.59 billion over the next five years. It “underlines the critical role of community pharmacy” and aims to support and develop that role with a host of measures, including:

  • NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), which will take referrals to community pharmacies from the non-emergency NHS 111 helpline. There are financial incentives available to pharmacies joining the scheme.
  • funding to introduce Hepatitis C testing in community pharmacies for people using needle and syringe programmes
  • a monthly transitional payment available to support preparations for a more service-based role

The new framework does plan to phase out previous payments made to dispensing pharmacies (“establishment payments”), but there is to be no change to the total funding profile.

A new plan of enhancement and support has been laid out for community and rural pharmacies. Although the development of the new framework has taken time, and some pharmacies have had to close as a result, the funding and initiatives it outlines mean that this policy is ‘done’.

Further reading – detail dispensary!

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