Chief Executive’s blog: May 2019

Chief Executive’s blog: May 2019

“PSNC is pressing for a multi-year contract to provide stability during a period of primary care transformation”

By PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes

This month marks a year since I became Chief Executive at PSNC. When I first arrived, community pharmacy and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) were coming to the end of a bruising Judicial Review. We have come a long way since then, and in April we embarked upon the first set of community pharmacy contract negotiations for five years.

I must admit that I didn’t expect it to take quite this long to start negotiations with DHSC and NHS England, following the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan and GP Contract, we now have a clearer picture of what our customer wants and we are ready to make the most of this opportunity.

All three parties have given an indication of their top priorities for these negotiations: DHSC is interested in the role community pharmacy can play in prevention and reducing pressure on urgent care; NHS England wants to expand the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS); and PSNC is pressing for a multi-year contract to provide stability during a period of primary care transformation.

One of the biggest challenges we face in the negotiations is the need to consider how any proposals could be adopted across a variety of different business models. And whilst our negotiating team representing independent, small chain and large multiples are wrestling with that, contractors on the ground need to prepare themselves for the inevitable changes required to meet the Government’s future plans for healthcare. Community pharmacy will eventually be doing more to provide services that help people to stay healthy.

We recommend that all pharmacy contractors start reviewing their current procedures and identifying ways to free up capacity, such as:

  • Making better use of technology and other team members’ skills;
  • Finding ways to interact with patients digitally; and
  • Updating your skills to provide the services the NHS needs.

Moreover, with the development of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) due to encompass a range of community healthcare professionals, contractors will need to learn how to engage and work effectively alongside not only GP practices, but also their neighbouring pharmacies. On average, around 10 community pharmacies will sit in each PCN footprint, and these pharmacies will need to work together to engage with their PCN. Your LPC can help with advice and guidance on how to do this.

To get the ball rolling, have a look at the first in a series of our animations on the future of pharmacy and use the accompanying resources list to start thinking about what you need to do next (see You may also find NHS England’s PCN series of webinars helpful. These will focus on a range of topics, including the role of pharmacy, and will highlight examples of work already in progress across the country. Details of the webinars can be found here.

LPCs and pharmacy teams will be instrumental in driving forward change for the sector, but please be assured that PSNC will be with you every step of the way. As well as working to get the best possible deal for community pharmacy in the negotiations, my team and I will continue to work with the other national pharmacy organisations to provide guidance and resources for both contractors and LPCs to help them to cement community pharmacy’s place in the future of the NHS. Look out for more on PCNs coming soon to the website.

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