Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport
In October last year, I reaffirmed the Welsh Government’s commitment to the community pharmacy sector as a fundamental part of a strong primary care service in Wales. I confirmed then that at a time when community pharmacies in England face cuts of over 7%, there were no proposals to reduce investment in community pharmacy here.
Since I made my announcement, my officials have been consulting with Community Pharmacy Wales on changes to contractual arrangements for community pharmacies which will deliver our aspiration for a community pharmacy service which meets the needs of the people in Wales now and in the future. I committed to make a further statement to Assembly Members once the process of consultation had concluded.
I am pleased to inform Assembly Members that I have reached agreement with Community Pharmacy Wales on changes to the contractual framework for pharmacies in 2017-18 which will allow pharmacies to increase their contribution in this financial year and provide a platform from which that contribution can be further extended in the future.
In summary, total community pharmacy contract funding in 2017-18 will be £144.3m. This includes an increase of £2m in the funding which will be available to support the commissioning of national and local enhanced services by health boards. This is in addition to the £3.9m already spent by health boards on services such as the common ailment service and pharmacy influenza vaccinations, and will be available immediately from within health boards’ existing allocations.
From October, £1m and £0.5m will be made available, again from within health boards’ existing allocations, to support the implementation of a pharmacy quality programme and to support collaborative working between pharmacies and other primary care providers through our network of primary care clusters. I expect the details of these schemes to be finalised in the coming months.
This is good news for pharmacies and patients in Wales. Whilst I am not, at this stage, able to confirm the level of funding available to community pharmacies after 2017-18, it is my intention to increase the level of funding available to support national and local enhanced service commissioning by at least a further £2m in 2018-19. This will allow these additional value added services to be commissioned more consistently. In readiness for this, the Welsh Government will provide funding in 2018-19 and 2019-20 to make the Choose Pharmacy IT application available to all pharmacies in Wales. Funding will also be made available from within the total community pharmacy contract funding to support community pharmacy workforce development.
I commend representatives of community pharmacy in Wales with whom we have worked to develop proposals that maximise the benefits of community pharmacy network, for the manner in which they continue to approach these discussions. I’m confident that this approach of working in partnership is the right one, as we continue to transform primary care in Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.