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Is a five-year contract still working for community pharmacy?

It could be time to rethink the length of future community pharmacy funding deals in England, PSNC’s new chief executive Janet Morrison has hinted.

Agreed in July 2019 between the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care, the current contract guaranteed a fixed funding level for community pharmacy in England for five years and set out a vision for the delivery of more clinical services.

PSNC needs to think “really hard” about “what kind of length of deal we want to have” after the current contract comes to an end, and this is likely to inform future talks with the government, Ms Morrison told C+D in an exclusive interview last month (March 30).


Although the length of the current five-year deal “gives people a basis to work with”, it has its drawbacks, Ms Morrsion said.

“The challenge with it, as we've seen, is its ability to adjust when the world changes,” she explained. “And the world changed rather a lot since the contractual framework was agreed.”


Read more: Aggression against pharmacy teams 'a matter of real concern', says PSNC boss

Inflation is “certainly much higher” than it was in 2019, as are utility and staffing costs, she argued, and the current deal is “not flexing to respond to the way the world changed”.

“We definitely need to prepare and think about that really hard for the next time around,” she said.

PSNC is now in the middle of negotiations for the current contract’s fourth year, but it needs to “start the planning and thinking about the next round” as soon as the current negotiations are over, she added.


Current negotiations


This planning and evidence gathering will begin “soon”, Ms Morrison confirmed today (April 13).

As well as the length of the deal, PSNC will also consider “how funding should be structured to support the sustainability and health of the community pharmacy sector”.


Read more: 'Challenging discussions' ahead as 2022/23 pharmacy funding talks start, PSNC says


Although Ms Morrison could not reveal much about the current talks with the government, she did share that the negotiations team “had very clear instruction from the committee and from contractors that [they] need to make the case for more funding” for community pharmacy.

They are also seeking to “evidence the pressures and capacity issues in the sector”, she said.


Read Ms Morrison’s full interview with C+D here

Is a five-year funding deal working for community pharmacies in England? Share your thoughts on the C+D Community

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