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Community pharmacists dispense and check prescriptions and provide advice to patients on the medicines that have been prescribed for them, for example, providing advice on how to take the medicines and advising on common side effects. Community pharmacists can also provide advice on minor illnesses and staying healthy (further information on the range of services that can be offered by community pharmacies can be found on the NHS Choices website).

A reduction in the NHS England funding settlement for community pharmacy in England was announced on 17 December 2015. This set out there would be reduction in funding of around 6%, with £2.63 billion of NHS England funding for the sector in 2016/17, as compared to £2.8 billion in 2015/16. This reduction is part of plans for the NHS in England to deliver £22 billion in efficiency savings by 2020/21.

The Government has said it believes these efficiencies can be made within community pharmacy without compromising the quality of services or public access to them. It said it will consult on the introduction of a Pharmacy Access Scheme, which will considering factors such as location and the health needs of the local population.

The briefing at the start of this debate pack outlines the proposed reduction in funding and the reactions to this from groups representing community pharmacists. It also refers to plans for a new Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) to support the deployment of clinical pharmacists in a range of community care settings, including groups of GP practices. The rest of the pack provides a selection of recent press articles, Parliamentary material and links to further reading.

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