Chief Executive’s blog: November 2019
Chief Executive’s blog: November 2019
December 4, 2019
“I hope the review will help PSNC and LPCs to work even more effectively in the future”
By PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes
As we approach the General Election on 12th December it continues to feel like a turbulent time in British politics: whatever Government we elect will face great challenges and must find a way to steer us through the ongoing Brexit situation. At our PSNC meeting in late November, we too were focused on what will be difficult and unpredictable times ahead as community pharmacies face significant financial and capacity challenges in the years to come.
As the negotiator, PSNC accepted the five-year deal on the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) this summer as the best outcome we believed was possible for the sector, recognising that the flat-cash funding would be incredibly challenging. We still believe that to have been the right decision – walking away risked further funding cuts, and we know that the NHS wants to unlock ‘major efficiency savings through the transformation and reform of dispensing – automation, online and supervision’. But as a sector we must now start to grapple with the very difficult question of how we deal with that funding squeeze.
As you would expect from your negotiator, we spent a considerable portion of our November meeting on those conversations. To say that we are very concerned about the financial and capacity pressures currently facing many community pharmacies is an understatement. There is a critical need for the sector to find new ways of working to find efficiencies and to release capacity. This does not mean trying to do what you have always done but faster or more efficiently; we know that pharmacists are working flat out as it is. Instead, it means thinking radically about your businesses and making fundamental changes to the way you work. This will be essential if the sector is to deliver all of the services set out in the five-year deal on the CPCF.
The Committee spent time discussing the merits and issues with some of the different ways in which the sector might adapt in the years to come. This included looking at models of delivery, ways of working, prescribing trends and possible future legislation changes which could help contractors. There are no quick answers, and there will be much to return to when the Committee meets again in 2020.
Independent Review of Support and Representation
As many of you will know by now, Professor David Wright, Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of East Anglia, is to lead an independent review into the support and representation that PSNC and the LPCs collectively offer to contractors.
This independent review comes at a critical time: as the sector comes under increasing financial pressure and enters a period of significant change, if not transformation, as part of the five-year CPCF. It is more important than ever that we and the LPCs serve contractors in the best possible way. Professor Wright will look to find ways for us to do that and I hope the review will provide a sense check both for us and the LPCs, finding ways for us to work together even more effectively in the future to represent and support you through these changes. Although the review will of course draw on the views of both PSNC and the LPCs, it will be carried out independently by an experienced team of academics who have much knowledge of pharmacy, led by Professor Wright.
Professor Wright has now launched his review and I would encourage all contractors to look at the website at: pharmacy-review.org. The website includes details of how to contact the review team and importantly about how independent contractors can take part in it. One option is to put yourself forward to be a member of the Steering Committee that will oversee the project and work being done by the team – you can do that by emailing Professor Wright a very short expression of interest. For others there will be many opportunities to participate including through focus groups and a national survey in 2020.
I would encourage all contractors to engage with this review if they possibly can, even if only by completing the survey in due course – representing and supporting you locally and nationally has never been more important and it is only by sharing views on what you need and want for the future that we and the LPCs can make ourselves as fit for your futures as we possibly can be.