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#GPnews: Government rubber-stamps plan to cut pharmacy budget

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300 practices to be given funding to improve premises and technology

QOF has reached the end of its useful life, says NHS chief

17:00 There is a fear that thousands of pharmacies could close as the Department of Health today confirmed that it wants the pharmacy budget to reduce by £200m in two years, reports the BBC.

It says the average pharmacy currently receives £220,000 in funding, counting for 80-90% of their income.

The Government is planning to scrap a flat rate of £25,000 which forms part of that funding package, and make pharmacies rely more on ‘performance-related’ income.

There are fears up to 3,000 out of just under 12,000 pharmacies could close as a result.

For a more in-depth report on the changes to funding, check out the report from Pulse’s sister title the Pharmacist.

15:00 On what is no doubt a busy news day for general practice, the GPC’s lead on training has reacted to health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that new trainee recruitment figures are good news (read the story here).

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said that ‘whilst acknowledging that GP recruitment has improved, the Government needs to realise that GP services are facing endemic shortages across the workforce with too many GPs leaving the profession and too few medical graduates joining’.

Dr Kasaraneni said this was ‘down to the incredible workload and funding pressures on GP practices that make the profession less attractive to work in than it once was’.

He said: ‘The current vacancy figures still leave general practice in England hundreds of GPs short of the target set by the health secretary, especially for GP trainees. We need the Government to urgently implement its recent promises in the GP Forward View so that we can recruit and retain enough GPs to deliver effective care to patients.’

Dr Kasaraneni also had a dig at Mr Hunt’s appearance before the House of Commons health committee earlier in the week (read the story here).

He said: ‘At a time when general practice is under tremendous pressure, the health secretary’s recent performance at the Health Select Committee was very worrying for those trying to turn the tide on GP recruitment given he couldn’t articulate how much investment was going to be delivered to the NHS.

‘There needs to be greater clarity and swifter action so that we address the problems threatening to overwhelm GP practices across England.’

12:30 Mosquito eggs that are ‘capable’ of carrying the dreaded zika virus, have been found in Kent, reports ITV News.

Fortunately, there is no risk to anyone’s health as a result of this find, continues the report.

The eggs were from an Asian Tiger Mosquito, and since the find, Shepway District Council has been spraying local gardens in a bid to ‘eradicate the mosquito, its eggs and larvae as a precaution’.

9:30 The GPC has come out in supprt of the comments made by NHS chief executive Simon Stevens about QOF yesterday,

As reported by Pulse, Mr Stevens said QOF had reached the end of its useful life.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘We agree that QOF has reached the end of its useful lifespan, and it is good that Simon Stevens agrees with the BMA’s GPs committee as we have already called for the end of QOF in our Urgent Prescription for General Practice.

‘This bold step, long overdue, will have a positive effect on practices by reducing bureaucracy and box-ticking, and allowing GPs to focus on the complex care needs of their patients.’

But Dr Nagpaul added that the removal of QOF must not be used ‘as a lever’ to tempt people away from the national GMS contract to Government’s new ‘voluntary’ contract.

He said: ‘It is important that the phased removal and end of QOF should apply equally to all practices, regardless of their contractual status, and must not be used as a lever for movement away from the current contract to a voluntary local contract.

‘We believe that patients’ needs are best served under a national GP contract that provides nationally specified consistent standards of care.’