Agenda item

Community Pharmacies Scrutiny Review

At its meeting on 1 February, 2017, the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee referred the Scrutiny Review on Community Pharmacies to the Cabinet. A covering report, Overview and Scrutiny Committee minute and the Scrutiny Review are attached.


JanetteWilliamson UPDATED

Councillor Janette Williamson – Cabinet Member - Public Health, said:


“It is important Wirral Council does everything possible to understand, scrutinise and assess the impact of contractual and funding changes on residents.


Members of all parties have delivered a detailed review of the implications, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to a very important subject for Cabinet to consider”.


Councillor Ann McLachlan introduced a report which informed that the Government had set out initial proposals for community pharmacies in 2016/17 and beyond in an open letter dated 17 December 2015 to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and other stakeholders.  The proposals had included revised contractual and funding arrangements.  A period of formal consultation ended on 24 May 2016, although confidential discussions continued beyond that date.


Following a Notice of Motion to the Council in July 2016, this issue had been referred to the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee for further consideration.  On the advice of NHS England, it had not been practical to commence a detailed scrutiny review immediately, as the Government had not, at that time, made a formal response to the consultation nor provided detailed proposals regarding the future contractual and financial arrangements for community pharmacies. 


Once the Government’s final proposals were made public in October 2016, a Scrutiny Review Panel had met in November to consider the potential impact of the changes to Wirral.  The report documented the findings.  On 1 February 2017, the report was approved by the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee and referred to the Cabinet for further consideration. 


This matter affected all Wards within the Borough. It was not a key decision.


Councillor McLachlan invited Councillor Phil Gilchrist, a Member of the Scrutiny review Panel, who was in attendance at the meeting, to speak on the report.


Councillor Gilchrist reported that Pharmacies were often the first port of call for medication when people were unwell and that they were rooted and embedded within local communities.  It was expected that the Pharmacy Funding Settlement would result in national spending of £2.687 billion (a 4% reduction) in 2016/17 and £2.592 billion (a further 3.4% reduction in 2017/18).  The funding changes would result in a simplification of the fees structure, including consolidation of fees into a single activity fee and phasing out of establishment fees.  At the same time, the Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) was being introduced to support access where pharmacies were sparsely spread and patients depended on them the most. However, key among the criteria for eligibility to the new access scheme was that a pharmacy must be more than one mile from the next nearest pharmacy. Initial indications were that, at a national level, 1356 pharmacies would receive funding from the PhAS on the basis of these criteria. However, only four of these were in Wirral.  Social deprivation was not given any weight under this scheme.


Councillor Janette Williamson informed that the impact to local communities was yet to be established and the judicial reviews relating to the changes imposed on community pharmacies were underway.  The outcome may not be known for some time.  Wirral’s community pharmacies were very much valued therefore updates on the Review Panel’s recommendations would be presented to the Cabinet in due course.


Councillor Chris Jones thanked Councillor Gilchrist for the important piece of work undertaken by the Review Panel.  She then drew the Cabinet’s attention to the Government’s campaign to reduce the pressures on GP’s and Hospital’s over stretched Accident and Emergency Departments, by encouraging people to visit their local pharmacies to seek advice in the first place on minor ailments and health problems.


Councillor Bernie Mooney considered that the Review Panel’s work was excellent.  She referred to the cross party consensus and agreement that there was on this matter and informed that the Council was at its best when Members were able to work together in this way.


Councillor McLachlan informed that it was important that the Cabinet monitored the impact of any changes, and particularly any impact on the most vulnerable in the Borough.  She noted that one of the Review Panel’s recommendations was that the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee should undertake a further investigation of the impact of the new contractual and funding arrangements for community pharmacies in approximately one year’s time and that an update on the other recommendations from this review be incorporated. Councillor McLachlan considered that this was vital to ensure that the Council got the services needed in Wirral.




(1)  the contents of the report be noted and the recommendations of the Community Pharmacy Scrutiny Review be endorsed; and


(2)  the Scrutiny Review Panel be thanked for its excellent and wide ranging piece of work. 


Councillor Ann McLachlan vacated the Chair.


Councillor Phil Davies returned to the meeting and the Chair.

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