PSNC Blog

Chief Executive’s blog: February 2019

Chief Executive’s blog: February 2019

“We expect funding negotiations to commence before Easter”

By PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes

The PSNC Committee held the first of its new-style quarterly meetings this month. In a packed agenda, we discussed the NHS Long Term Plan, Brexit contingency planning, price concessions, service updates, and of course the commitment to Primary Care Networks (PCNs) made in the GP funding deal. We also had a guest speaker: Julie Wood, CEO of NHS Clinical Commissioners. The Long Term Plan highlights the desire by our principal customer (NHS England) to develop an integrated local healthcare system. CCGs and community pharmacy’s relationship could not be more key, and it was great to hear Julie’s views on this.

The new contract for GPs paves the way for unprecedented changes that will affect everyone working in primary care; community pharmacies included. PCNs are merely local networks with GP practices at the heart; but they bring together a range of other healthcare professionals to deliver patient-focused care and we must all work to ensure that community pharmacies are involved and integrated with them.

As a sector, achieving this will require not only working closely with GP colleagues, but also collaborating with one another, and embracing and delivering some of our own changes to help free up community pharmacists’ time to focus more on clinical services.

Encouragingly, we have seen a number of positive statements from the NHS confirming that this is a direction of travel in which they wish to support us. The Long Term Plan promised to make better use of community pharmacists’ clinical skills; we have had assurances that community pharmacists could provide some of the clinical pharmacy services that the PCNs will need to offer; and an extension of the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) service is likely to see GPs referring to pharmacies, in due course. All of which are clear signals that people on the other side of the negotiating table are keen for community pharmacies to offer more in the future.

Of course, it won’t have escaped your notice that community pharmacy funding negotiations have not yet begun. These have been delayed, as have many things, by HM Government’s work preparing for Brexit. But we expect them to commence before Easter, and we will issue a short statement when they do. If we are going to truly integrate with these multi-disciplinary networks, then it makes sense for the NHS to commit to a deal that runs parallel to that agreed with GPs, and contractors should have no doubt that we will be pushing for that during our negotiations.

Outside of the negotiations our immediate next steps are to begin working with NHS England and LPCs to help facilitate local engagement to ensure that community pharmacy is at the heart of the developing plans; and to start collating evidence that may help to make the case for community pharmacy service development and integration within PCNs. You can read more about this and our workplan for 2019 in the summary of the PSNC meeting which is available here.



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