Community pharmacy must keep challenging Government thinking, says PSNC CEO

Community pharmacy must keep challenging Government thinking, says PSNC CEO

October 8, 2017

Community pharmacy must keep campaigning against Government plans that could reduce community pharmacy services, PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe has told the Pharmacy Show today (Sunday 8th October).

Sue talked delegates through the current crisis in the NHS, and her expectation that the health services it offers will have to be reduced over time as funding levels become inadequate.

Over the past two years, community pharmacy has had its worst relationship with the NHS, Sue said. The funding reductions the sector is now grappling with had been driven by the need for NHS cost savings and the ‘false view’ that warehouse supply of medicines could be an adequate, cheaper substitute for the community pharmacy dispensing service.

Community pharmacies embrace technology and it is wrong to cast those who oppose warehouse supply as dinosaurs, Sue said. Instead, the future of community pharmacy must be based on developing the relationships that pharmacies have with their patients to provide greater care and support for them, especially as the NHS reduces its service. That relationship is grounded in the supply of medicines, and we need digital solutions that protect this.

The cashflow crisis now facing community pharmacy contractors – caused by the imposed funding reductions, reductions in Category M prices to recover an over delivery of margin in previous years, and unpredicted sudden price rises for generic drugs – is severe, she said. But there is a risk of further cuts.

Sue said ahead of the conference:

“Community pharmacy, like all other providers of health and social care, is facing a battle for survival. The sector will undoubtedly look very different in just a few years time, and we must all continue to examine and, where necessary, to challenge the Government’s thinking about our future.

For example, we know how valuable the personal contact between pharmacy teams and patients is, and we must ensure the Government understands how much could be lost through substituting this with warehouse dispensing. The economic evaluation by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) remains a crucial piece of evidence for us as we do this.

Community pharmacies provide services which are vital for many patients, and which communities across England rely on and greatly value. It would be madness for the Government to throw this unique community asset away; and we must keep making that case.”

PSNC’s Services, Dispensing & Supply and Communications Teams are also attending the Pharmacy Show 2017.

PSNC has organised and is chairing the Pharmacy Services Innovation Theatre, showcasing local service success stories to LPCs and others. And Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services, will take part in a panel discussion on Quality Payments ahead of the November review point.

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