Published: 11/11/2004, Volume II4, No. 5931 Page 8

The government has announced a package of support for primary care trusts to help them implement the new pharmacy contract, which is expected to come into operation in April 2005.

The programme of guidance, training and networking opportunities, provided through the National Primary and Care Trust Development Programme, National Primary Care Development Team, National Prescribing Centre and Manchester University's Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education, is being rolled out between now and the early part of next year.

The Department of Health and NatPaCT are set to publish a toolkit on how to undertake pharmaceutical needs assessments - a key process in developing a pharmacy strategy and incorporating pharmacy into overall commissioning - by the end of November.

NatPaCT will run five learning exchange events nationally during December, focusing on the new contract; reforms to the regulations governing control of entry to pharmacy provision; pharmaceutical needs assessment; repeat dispensing; financial implications of the new contract; and IT.

These will be followed by six national events early in 2005, focusing on on the 'control of entry' reforms to deregulate the industry. NatPaCT and the NPDT are also establishing a national pharmacy helpline.

PCT chief executives and primary care contracting leads, and their strategic health authority counterparts, will be invited to join a new community pharmacy framework collaborative being set up by the NPC's medicines management service.

This will involve participation in a 12-month co-ordinated programme of events and activities. A range of targeted training packages covering issues, including developing public health services and management of controlled drugs will also be available through the NPC Plus programme.

Some of the 27 sites participating in the NPTD's national primary care contracting collaborative have included community pharmacists in their commissioning arrangements, and are expected to provide examples of the contribution community pharmacy can make to service areas such as mental and sexual health and management of patients with long-term conditions.

PCTs will also be able to commission workshops on a range of essential and enhanced services through the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education.

The NatPaCT website already offers extensive information for PCTs on how to prepare for implementation of the contract, including information from the pharmacy significant issues group and links to examples of good practice.