Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services
On 17 December, the UK Government announced proposals to cut the funding available to community pharmacies in England by 6% in the next financial year. This would amount, in the Department of Health’s analysis, to the loss of £170m to the sector in England in 2016-17.
These proposals are subject to a consultation, which runs until 24 March. We do not yet know the outcome of the consultation.
Following the announcement of proposed cuts to community pharmacy in England, I want to set out the position in Wales.
The Welsh Government has an excellent record of investing in community pharmacy and developing the role of pharmacists. As part of a strong primary care service, community pharmacies are fundamental to managing demand on GP services by reducing unnecessary appointments and making sure people are able to see the right professional in the right setting at the right time.
The Welsh Government is today announcing a £750,000 investment from the Efficiency Through Technology Fund to fully integrate community pharmacy with GPs and hospitals. This will provide community pharmacy with access to people’s individual health records and enable discharge information to be transferred from hospitals to a patient’s nominated community pharmacy.
The Choose Pharmacy scheme will also be made available to all health boards across Wales, enabling more people to access advice and treatment for a range of minor ailments from their community pharmacy without an appointment. This will help to reduce pressures on GP surgeries, freeing up GPs’ time to manage people with more complex conditions.
Since 2005, the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework has been agreed on an England and Wales basis. In that time, we have worked with the representatives of pharmacy contractors here in Wales, to apply this framework flexibly. In doing so we have delivered our own agenda for community pharmacy services, which meets the particular needs of the people in Wales.
The proposed changes to community pharmacy funding in England will be unsettling for pharmacy contractors in Wales. It will fall to the incoming Welsh Government to decide how to proceed in light of the decisions being made in England.
However, the health and social services budget in Wales for the next financial year does not include any proposals to reduce investment in community pharmacy services.