Chief Executive’s blog: April 2019

Chief Executive’s blog: April 2019

“While I am not going to talk about our negotiating positions in public, there are some things that we can share”

By PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes

The good news is that negotiations have finally started for the 2019/20 Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).

The more difficult news is that everyone is anxious to hear how I think the discussions are going to go. While I am not going to talk about our negotiating positions in public, there are some things that we can share. As per the details set out in the NHS Long Term Plan and GP contract, the Government is looking to better use the clinical skillset and reach of community pharmacy, so you can expect discussions around urgent care, prevention and medicines safety. Specifically, we will be considering:

  • The possible roll-out of a national minor illnesses referral service via NHS 111, and the piloting of referrals to community pharmacy from other settings such as GPs and NHS.UK;
  • The future of the Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP) programme and effective use of the Pharmacy Integration Fund; and
  • Medicines safety interventions and the future of Medicines Use Reviews (MURs).

All of this is positive, and PSNC’s Negotiating Team, which comprises experienced members from both the multiple and independent sectors, will be fighting as hard as possible on behalf of the sector that we all work in. We as much as anyone passionately want to secure a sustainable future for community pharmacy.

Which is why as well as looking forward to some promising service development conversations, we are preparing for some challenging discussions on funding and reimbursement, and on how we can free up capacity within the sector. The Government is our only payer and so our leverage is often limited; but rest assured that we will use all that we have robustly.

Alongside our negotiations, the move towards yet more local planning and provision of services is also going to test the sector. The evolving Primary Care Networks (PCNs) which I talked about in this blog last month will be the foundation of primary care in the future, and pharmacy contractors must take the lead in engaging with them.

To do this we must first tackle the lack of unity among us head on, and I would urge all contractors to take the first step by talking to the pharmacies around them – how can you collectively meet the needs of your local patients, and what proposals can you make to your local PCN together? I know the idea of collaborating with a competitor will be difficult for many, and we are not going to make all of this happen overnight – and indeed nor do we need to, because the GPs face as many challenges as us as they work out how to collaborate to make PCNs work from their side. But we must start somewhere.

A good first step will be to watch PSNC’s animation about the future (available from 30th April at which will give you an idea of where we think pharmacy is headed and how you can start to prepare. Of course, we will be helping you to do this over the coming weeks and months, providing support and resources to help with local conversations; encouraging and co-ordinating collaborative work between the national pharmacy organisations; and working closely with the LPCs.

As we go into what will be a crucial period for community pharmacy, I cannot stress enough that we are on your side. But we will also need contractors to play their parts as we go along. The challenges for community pharmacy must be faced and addressed by everyone in the sector, working together, not against one another. I look forward to another big year for all of us.

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