Settlement 2015/16: PSNC members respond

Published on: 20th July 2015 | Updated on: 15th March 2022

Gary WarnerGary Warner, Chair of PSNC’s Service Development Subcommittee, a PSNC Negotiating Team member, and an independent community pharmacy contractor

As Chair of PSNC’s Service Development Subcommittee I’m of course delighted to have a new Advanced Service. Community pharmacy flu vaccinations make sense for pharmacies, patients and the NHS, and this is a big win for the sector particularly in the face of staunch opposition from some GPs.

Persuading the NHS to commission a new national service requires time, expertise and commitment from both those offering the service in pilots or at a local level and those analysing the data, building the evidence case and arguing for it. It has taken us a long time to get here and that has been frustrating, but community pharmacies have proved how valuable they can be in improving uptake of the vaccine and how popular they are with patients year after year, through both private and NHS funded services.

Services absolutely must be at the heart of what all community pharmacies do. The supply of medicines will always be our raison d’être and the value that that offers the NHS cannot be understated; but it is always an area in which the NHS will look for savings. Offering a range of services helps us to build on the value we are already delivering, enables us to diversify our income streams, and means we can take greater control over the future of our businesses. Flu is a great example of this – we know patients want to receive vaccinations from us and we are not reliant on anyone else to ensure that that happens. We must make the most of it.

And let us not forget the other opportunities we have. MURs, the NMS, repeat dispensing and often a range of locally commissioned services mean many of us already have the ability to offer our patients a varied and valuable healthcare service. It may be painful getting there – both in the negotiations and for those of us adapting our working practices – but when we do it is and will continue to be worth the effort, both for our patients and for the future of our businesses. 


Peter CatteePeter Cattee, Chair of PSNC’s Funding and Contract Subcommittee, a PSNC Negotiating Team member, and CEO of PCT Healthcare

The NHS is an increasingly challenging environment in which to be working; the financial and capacity pressures are enormous and the health service is looking to make savings and improve efficiency wherever possible. Once again pharmacy has not escaped the pressures as this settlement has taken longer than the Negotiating Team would have liked to agree and it has involved some very difficult negotiations.

I hope that contractors will welcome the introduction of the new Advanced Service and the funding stability that this agreement brings. The opportunity for all pharmacies to provide NHS flu vaccinations is a step forward both for the profession and our businesses.

In the Funding and Contract Subcommittee we will be continuing to look at the Drug Tariff and margin delivery – this is complicated work, but in time we hope to improve the mechanisms to smooth the delivery of funding and ensure fair access to purchase margins for all contractors. I also hope that contractors will not lose their optimism about community pharmacy – we have a huge amount to offer to both our patients and the NHS and the introduction of a new service presents another opportunity for us to keep proving that and making our case.


Bharat PatelBharat Patel, a PSNC Negotiating Team member and an independent community pharmacy contractor

This settlement, with the agreement for funding to remain the same at £2.8 billion, will be a relief to independent contractors, particularly in a world in which the NHS is demanding efficiencies of all providers. The pharmacy flu vaccination service is also very positive news and I know contractors will welcome another way to help patients and diversify their businesses.

The focus for pharmacy businesses will now be on getting ready for the service. Of course, as is true for all of the contractors on PSNC, I have been very frustrated by the protracted time that these negotiations have taken and we have continually stressed the need to give contractors as much notice as possible of the service. The success of the service will now depend upon easy access to the training required, the vaccinations that we can source, the speed at which we can mobilise our teams, and the patients that we can recruit. Independent community pharmacy is good at all of this, and many of us will have been preparing for local services already, so I know that we will meet the challenge. 

Another focus for the future for PSNC will be the work on costing the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). Securing agreement to work jointly on this was an important win for us as it is vital that we fully capture the costs of the service. This will be particularly true for independent contractors who don’t have the support of central IT teams and systems, so I hope they will welcome this.

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