Published: 27/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5907 Page 9

The autumn deadline for implementing the new pharmacy contract will be missed because of a disagreement over funding levels between the Department of Health and the pharmacy negotiators.

The pharmaceutical services negotiating committee met health minister Rosie Winterton last week, but the pharmacy negotiators said that the 'unrealistic' position of the DoH over funding meant that a ballot of pharmacists could not be held over the summer, as originally planned.

PSNC negotiators reminded Ms Winterton of the importance of securing agreement on the new contract if health policy decisions to shift care out into the community are to be successful.

PSNC chair Barry Andrews said: 'Whilst the minister left us in no doubt of her continued commitment to the new contract, it is clear to us that the pace of action in the DoH means that October implementation is not now realistic'.