A range of national and local media outlets are showing considerable interest in medicines supply and PSNC has been working to provide relevant information and comment to journalists.
Support for LPC members on handling media queries on this topic, including some suggested key messages, is available here (LPC Members Area login required). For further support with media queries please contact the PSNC Communications Team by emailing email@example.com
PSNC has been in contact with BBC journalists (including Hugh Pym, Health Editor; and reporters for Radio 5 Live, the One Show and the Victoria Derbyshire show), The Guardian, The Times, The Observer, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, the Health Service Journal, the British Medical Journal, and Channel 5 News. Some of their media reports are set out below.
BBC Radio 5 Live: PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes appeared on the ‘Wake Up to Money’ programme in December 2018 to discuss how preparations for a no-deal Brexit may be exacerbating ongoing medicine supply issues. Coverage continued during 5 Live’s Breakfast Show where they used soundbites from Simon’s interview and then interviewed BBC Health Editor Hugh Pym who PSNC had briefed on this issue. Hugh also published an article on medicines supply which brought together the issues raised in 5 Live’s coverage.
On 26th March 2019, Simon Dukes again appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live. This time he was on 5 Live Drive (approx. 1 hour and 50 minutes in) providing an update on the medicines supply situation. He reassured listeners of the work community pharmacy teams are doing to make sure patients receive their medicines in a timely manner.
The Guardian: PSNC Committee Member Mark Burdon contributed to a piece on how Brexit disruption could hit medicine supplies and a statement from PSNC CEO Simon Dukes appeared in an article about Government plans for the use of alternative transport routes and prioritisation of medicines as part of no-deal Brexit contingency planning. A later article, which references a statement from PSNC, reported that plans have been drawn up for the use of alternative transport routes and prioritisation of medicines as part of no-deal Brexit contingency planning.
BBC News: Based on information provided from PSNC about price concessions, the BBC reported that (in Janaury 2019) there 80 medicines in short supply, up from 45 in October. The article states that whilst there are a number of reasons why this has happened, there are concerns that Brexit uncertainty will make the situation worse. This was the lead story on the BBC website and was later covered on the 10 o’clock news. It also featured in The Mail.
If you need support in handling media queries, please get in touch with the PSNC Communications Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Public affairs work
PSNC is engaging with politicians to ensure that they are aware of the impact that a no-deal Brexit may have on community pharmacies. In conversations with MPs we have been seeking support for improvements to the price concessions system to protect pharmacies should significant numbers of medicines only be available at high prices; and for protection for community pharmacies should workload and financial pressures increase, particularly in a no-deal Brexit scenario. Some examples of this work are set out below.
PSNC Interim Briefing: An Introduction to Serious Shortage Protocols (March 2019)
PSNC is aware that there have been some concerns expressed about the Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) from patient groups and GPs, but we believe that many of these concerns may have stemmed from the lack of information available about SSPs and from misunderstandings about their scope. The briefing below explains how we expect the SSPs to work, including the many safeguards in place to ensure that this legislation is implemented safely and for the benefit of patients.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee
Following a meeting with Dr Wollaston in November 2018, PSNC set out its position on Brexit and medicines supply in a letter. The letter highlights PSNC’s ongoing work with DHSC to minimise the impact of Brexit on the medicines supply chain, and also our work with other pharmacy organisations and stakeholders from across the medicines supply chain via the Brexit Forum. The letter describes a number of potential measures that could be in put in place to help minimise the impact of Brexit on medicines supply, pharmacies and patients.
The letter provides a useful summary of the sector’s concerns so may also be useful for pharmacy teams and LPCs to refer to when they are speaking to politicians or other stakeholders on this subject.
Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee
We have also made a submission to the Committee’s inquiry on the effects that a no-deal Brexit might have on the health sector. The main points raised in PSNC’s submission to this inquiry included:
- The potential impact a no-deal could have on the availability of medicines that are routinely used in patients’ care;
- Ensuring additional costs to the community pharmacy sector are covered and reimbursement is quick and clear; and
- Consideration of issues relating to FMD, including its implementation one month before Brexit.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Access to Medicines and Medical Devices
We wrote to this group about the need to maintain the supply of medicines after Brexit and then met with the Chair of the group, and with other MPs, in December 2018 and January 2019.