GP Practice Pharmacists and Primary Care Networks

Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are being established as part of the new GP contract introduced in 2019/20. The intention is that each PCN will cover a patient population of 30-50,000 and should be in place by July 2019. An additional element of the new GP contract is the funding of additional health professional workforce to directly support PCNs. The PDA is pleased that pharmacists are an integral part of the additional workforce.

Thu 30th May 2019 The PDA

Networks will be able to decide how they want to deploy the additional workforce which will be gradually introduced over the next 5 years and will also include the opportunity to employ social prescribers, physiotherapists, physician associates, and paramedics. Initially, in the first year a PCN will be eligible to receive funding for 70% of the costs of 1 WTE clinical pharmacist per PCN. The funding level is ostensibly based between 7 and 8a on the agenda for change scale.

Whilst it is a positive development that a primary care pharmacist workforce is being resourced via the GP contract, it is not a simple case of new roles for pharmacists. In order to prevent this additional NHS resource being utilised to fund GP practice pharmacists who are already employed by GP practices or commissioning organisations, they will not be eligible to become a PCN pharmacist (unless currently part of an NHS E programme – please see next paragraph). A baseline review is being undertaken of currently employed GP practice workforce, including GP practice pharmacists. GP practices will not be able to dismiss current pharmacist employees to replace with PCN funded pharmacist roles.

Pharmacists currently employed on the NHS England funded Clinical Pharmacist in GP Practice or Medicines Optimisation in Care Homes Programmes are eligible to be transitioned into PCN roles. This is subject to specific criteria. If current sites decide to transition clinical pharmacists into the PCN workforce, those that have been in employment prior to March 31st can transfer as a baseline*. This workforce would be in addition to the 1 WTE per PCN in the first year.  If an employment contract was in place by 30th April, but they had not started in post they can transition as the 1 WTE pharmacist per PCN.

*The decision to transfer clinical pharmacists lies with the employing networks, who may decide not to transition all those that are eligible. This is because the funding mechanism changes after the first year to a weighted capitation sum, which provides a single combined maximum reimbursement sum covering all 5 roles, including any pharmacists transferred from the current national scheme.

The transition of employment into PCNs could be a complicated process and may bring changes for pharmacists such as:

  • Employing organisation
  • Terms and conditions
  • Loss of agenda for change terms if move to a non-NHS organisation (e.g. CCG to GP practice or GP federation).

Network pharmacists will also be required to work across PCN footprints. This may lead to changes in the GP practices that you work in, and your base.

The PDA wants to support members currently working in GP practices in order to facilitate the development of a PCN pharmacist workforce. We are aware that employment and contract discussions are underway in some NHSE GP Practice Clinical Pharmacist Programme sites and that there are questions for those currently working in GP practices through a variety of employment models.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us on 0121 694 7000 or email putting PCN in the subject line.

We are arranging a series of focus groups with GP practice pharmacists to see how we can best support you through the development of PCNs and the changes.

We will also be at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress on 7th and 8th June, come and see us on stand C15.

Pharmacists Working in General Practice Survey

We are inviting pharmacists currently working in general practice in the UK, to complete our Pharmacists Working in General Practice Survey. The survey is open to PDA members and non-members alike and will help us to understand how the landscape for GP pharmacists has changed over the last few years. To complete the short survey, click here


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