Chief Executive’s blog: June 2020

Chief Executive’s blog: June 2020

“I hope as many contractors as possible will take part in the Pharmacy Advice Audit”

By Chief Executive Simon Dukes

As business and social restrictions are gradually lifted, many of us are starting to pick-up things we had been working on before the pandemic. NHSE&I and DHSC is no different, and in previous blogs I have mentioned our work with them on what they call ‘restoration and recovery.’ PSNC and the community pharmacy sector are also no exceptions to this. This month has seen the delayed publication of Professor David Wright’s independent review; the launch of our pharmacy advice audit – which we began talking about much earlier this year – and now that some of the immediate COVID19-related negotiations have passed, we are embarking on important wider funding work and negotiations.

Our immediate priority is to negotiate a COVID-19 funding settlement for 2020/21. This needs to include a write-off or full reconciliation of the total of £370m advance payments that HM Government has made to contractors. We also want to see all contractors’ costs related to the pandemic covered. As soon as we hear back from HM Treasury and DHSC on our funding bid – which we expect to do soon – we will be able to take forward the negotiations. Our ambitions, as ever, are to gain as much financial support and security for contractors as we can. This has been a tortuous process thus far, and we can expect protracted negotiations over the summer as HM Government tries to argue that the words of the Secretary of State for Health at the start of the pandemic promising that it would ‘do whatever it takes … do all that we can’ to get through coronavirus do not apply to us.

This work will take place alongside the ongoing discussions about outstanding COVID-19 matters, including about funding temporary pharmacy closures and the local Emergency Supply service, and about the delayed elements of the CPCF such as the Pharmacy Quality Scheme and the Discharge Medicines Services. All of these are matters that pharmacies need answers on as quickly as possible and on which PSNC has pressed repeatedly.

The summer will also be also be a time of preparation. We have already begun negotiations ahead of the Flu Vaccination Service: there will be many challenges this year and we will once again be dependent on wider healthcare policy decisions being made by the Cabinet, but we know we will be fighting for pharmacies to remain central to the vaccination efforts, and to be fairly remunerated for doing so. Later in the summer we also expect to begin the annual review of the CPCF, which is our chance, every year, to reflect on the progress of the five-year CPCF deal and to make the case for more investment. We will be looking at ways to gather evidence for this process, and of course this will be closely linked to our work on restoration and recovery with the other pharmacy bodies and NHSE&I and DHSC.

The evidence collation has already begun, and I hope as many contractors as possible will take part in the Pharmacy Advice Audit which we launched this month. To take part in the audit, which involves recording all the informal consultations you have with patients over a single day, please visit: The data we capture will help us to track pharmacy workload as well as demonstrating how much local communities value their pharmacies.

Finally, alongside this work, PSNC will be reflecting further on how we and the LPCs can make ourselves fit for the future. Following the Independent Review of Contractor Representation and Support which I kicked off last year, Professor Wright has set out 33 recommendations for change which we now need to consider carefully as a sector. That process will begin with a PSNC and LPC event on July 8th, and I hope to be able to give contractors an update, including details on how they can be involved, over the summer.

Nobody could have anticipated that a global pandemic would impact on pharmacies and on the sector’s work so much as it has in 2020. But as all parts of the NHS start to prepare for what could be the most challenging period yet, it’s vital that we use these summer months to make progress too: progress on funding; progress on representative change for contractors; and progress on a realistic roadmap for the next 12 months and beyond.

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