Chief Executive’s blog: December 2018

Chief Executive’s blog: December 2018

“Community pharmacies will need to be open to making changes in how we work”

By PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes

The end of the year, whatever your faith or beliefs, is often a time of reflection – both on the twelve months that have passed and the year to come. For community pharmacy there is much to think about as we look back over an eventful year; all pharmacies have been busy juggling the complexities of this year’s flu vaccination service, implementing GDPR, managing medicines supplies and shortages, working towards Quality Payments and offering all the local clinical services that so many of you do.

Since joining PSNC seven months ago I have seen a sector working incredibly hard to serve their local patients and communities; but I have also met business owners who are battling for survival, feeling frustrated and unclear about why they have been treated as they have. For their part, the Government and NHS – our paying customers – also appear bruised; they have not been able to get all that they want out of the pharmacies they fund, and constructive dialogue when I arrived had reached a standstill.

The good news is that there is now willingness from both sides to engage. We saw evidence of this once again earlier this month when the Chief Executives of the national pharmacy organisations (the RPS, AIM, CCA, NPA and PSNC) had a meeting with NHS England. Discussion centred on the relationships between community pharmacy, the NHS and other healthcare providers, and we explored the principles behind the integration of community pharmacies as part of Primary Care Networks, and how the Pharmacy Integration Fund could enable future integration. We will meet again in early 2019 to discuss further within the context of the NHS Long Term Plan.

That we now have constructive dialogue in place is positive – community pharmacy cannot be at odds with its customer. But that is not to say that the coming year, and all those beyond, are going to be easy. The tests ahead were all too apparent at PSNC’s planning meeting in November at which we discussed such topics as pharmacy funding distribution and how community pharmacies must embrace technology to enhance their relationship with patients and the service that they can offer.

There will be big challenges for community pharmacy in 2019, both sector specific and related to the wider economic picture and the drive to control costs across the health service. As pharmacy’s future is shaped by the NHS Long Term Plan and the 2019/20 funding negotiations, community pharmacies will need to be open to making changes in how we work and to the core services that pharmacies offer on behalf of the NHS. That will not be easy, and I would encourage all of you as you make choices for the year ahead to consider the ability that your businesses will have to adapt to these changes. For our part, it is increasingly important that PSNC supports community pharmacy owners and LPCs and we will continue to focus on how best we can do that.

I know that many of you will be working over the holiday season – yet another demonstration of the important role that community pharmacies have in the healthcare of this country – but I hope all of you will manage to get a break of some sort, and to recharge the batteries in preparation for an inevitably busy year to come.

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