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NHS England announces £42 million Pharmacy Integration Fund

NHS England has announced a £42m Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) to support pharmacy to transform how it operates across the NHS for the benefit of patients over the next two years.  

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The Pharmacy Integration Fund will support community pharmacy as it develops new clinical pharmacy services, working practices and digital platforms to meet the public’s expectations for a modern NHS community pharmacy service.

It follows the announcement of the Department of Health’s new Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework and associated funding, and comprises a package of proposals for 2016- 2018.

The aim of the PhIF is to support the development of clinical pharmacy practice in a wider range of primary care settings, resulting in more integrated and effective NHS primary care for patients 

In particular, the fund will drive the greater use of community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in new, integrated local care models.

This will improve access for patients, relieve the pressure on GPs and accident and emergency departments, ensure best use of medicines, drive better value and improve patient outcomes.

The Independent Review of Community Pharmacy Clinical Services, which was commissioned by the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer of England, Dr Keith Ridge, will be used to help determine how the funding is spent over the next two years . The review is due to report by the end of the year.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Dr Keith Ridge said: “NHS England is making this extra money available to help modernise the pharmacy sector and make the most of pharmacists’ skills.  We are not asking community pharmacy to do more, but to work with us over the next five years to develop how we can do things differently.

“There is no doubt that the community pharmacy profession will have to change how it works but we will be working closely with them to support and enable this process.

“Everyone agrees that community pharmacy is being held back by outdated working practices and an old-fashioned view of the pharmacist as someone who simply dispenses medicines at the back of the shop rather than as a trained clinical professional who provides specialist advice to patients and doctors from a professionally orientated clinical environment. We want to work with the profession to change that and rather than increasing the burden on GPs the aim is to allow community pharmacists to take a greater NHS role in helping patients.

Community pharmacists are skilled health professionals who undergo one year less training than their medical colleagues. They are trusted to ensure the patient’s best interests are at the heart of the care they deliver. Pharmacists are now undergoing training in many areas to become prescribers in their own right and work closely with their general practice colleagues to improve access to clinical services. 

As a result of new ways of working in general practice, nearly 500 pharmacists are currently working in GP surgeries and care homes, enabling more people to benefit from the clinical expertise of pharmacists and relieve the pressure on general practice waiting times and on hospital admissions. Now we want to extend this kind of innovation into community pharmacy using the PhIF as the catalyst for transformation.

NHS England will ensure they work closely with existing community and hospital pharmacists so this is about transforming community pharmacy for the benefit of the public.