The community pharmacy sector is a “fundamental part” of the primary care sector in Wales, said health secretary Vaughan Gething, as he announced that the total community pharmacy contract funding for Wales will be maintained in 2017-18, rising by £3.9 million to £144.3 million.

“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. At a time when thousands of community pharmacies in England face closure as a result of funding cuts of over 7 per cent, I said there were no proposals to reduce investment in community pharmacy here in Wales. Today’s announcement shows we’ve been true to our promise,” said Mr Gething (pictured).

Wales "true to promise" on funding

The Welsh Government has said that the funding will “improve access to services provided by community pharmacies – such as the common ailment service and pharmacy influenza vaccinations; it will also support the implementation of a pharmacy quality programme and support collaborative working between pharmacies and other primary care providers.”

Additional funding will also make the Choose Pharmacy IT application available to all pharmacies in Wales.

“Choose Pharmacy will support pharmacists to deliver an increasing range of patient focussed clinical services. Our common ailment scheme allows people with minor ailments to see highly skilled pharmacists for advice and treatment, freeing up GPs’ time to focus on those people with more complex cases and reduce patient waiting times,” said Mr Gething.

The Choose Pharmacy application gives community pharmacists access to patients’ summary medical records.

Pharmacist Phil Parry, chair of the board of Community Pharmacy Wales, welcomed the funding decision. “We are pleased with an outcome that sees funding secured to increase access to pharmacy services throughout Wales and the Board of Community Pharmacy Wales is committed to getting high levels of engagement and delivery from our contractors to make sure that community pharmacists play an ever expanding role in the delivery of health care in Wales,” he said.

The commitment to make the Choose Pharmacy platform available to every community pharmacy was a particularly welcome step, he said, and is an “affirmation of our central role as part of the health care family in Wales”.

Responses:

In response, Mandeep Mudhar, director of marketing and professional development at Numark, said: “The announcement that Welsh community pharmacy funding will rise to £144 million for 2017-18 is a real triumph. Not only is it heartening to see the commitment from the Welsh Government to the future of community pharmacy in Wales, but also great that there is a commitment to working closely with CPW to make it a reality.

“More reassuringly, there is positive intent to not follow the way of England by imposing cuts or looking to reduce pharmacy numbers, and that is testament to the strength of CPW in its negotiations with the Welsh Government.

“There’s also the pledge to fund a national IT support programme, which will potentially be a game changer for community pharmacy in Wales and sets the standard for the rest of the UK.

“Community pharmacy in England could learn some lessons here – very simply, a unified pharmacy body speaking to Government with a unified message to deliver the prosperity that community pharmacy sector needs to survive and thrive.”

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