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PSNC funds independent research on vision for community pharmacy

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has commissioned two think tanks to develop a “new vision and strategic options” for the community pharmacy sector ahead of future funding negotiations, it has announced. 

The report, due to be published next summer, will aim to demonstrate the “vital and potentially growing role” of community pharmacy in primary care and how the sector can deliver value for money and better patient outcomes.

Developed by the Nuffield Trust and the King's Fund, the report aims to unite the sector behind shared goals and develop a case for a sustainably funded sector.

It will support negotiations between PSNC and policymakers for the next Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) ahead of April 2024, the negotiating body revealed.

Read more: ‘It’s high time we saw more money put into PSNC’: Everything you need to know about the RSG proposals

It follows PSNC’s launch of the Transforming Pharmacy Representation (TAPR) programme in July, which it established to make the recommendations from the Review Steering Group (RSG) a reality.

In a press briefing yesterday (October 31), PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison confirmed to C+D that the newly commissioned research falls under “one of several work streams we’re doing under the RSG proposals”.

In June, contractors voted in favour of the RSG’s proposals, which included developing a compelling vision and an effective strategy for community pharmacy and getting local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) to redistribute 13% of their funding back towards the negotiating body.

 

Consultation to launch this month

 

PSNC will establish a steering group and advisory panel and will also seek input from the wider pharmacy network, as well as consulting “a wide range of experts from outside pharmacy”, it announced.

External stakeholders will include senior policy leads at NHS England (NHSE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), primary care commissioning leads at Integrated Care Systems, national voices such as Healthwatch and other patient groups.

Read more: PSNC to mull alternative types of contract as current model ‘not working’

Pharmacy owners and their teams, LPCs and “all others in the sector” will also be invited to take part in two consultation exercises, the first of which will launch later this month, PSNC said.

The consultation process for the report will have four working groups looking at four key areas: services, funding, digital and technology, and workforce challenges.

However, it will be separate from the NHSE economic review of the community pharmacy sector, which was announced when the outcome of negotiations for years 4 and 5 of the CPCF were revealed in September.

 

“We can’t just rely on one guy because his mum was a pharmacist”

 

Commenting on the launch of the project, Ms Morrison emphasised that it is “critical that alongside our ongoing discussions with government we look ahead to what comes after the five-year deal ends”.

The commissioned report “should do just that”, strong of the Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund’s voices, “which we will make sure policy-makers cannot ignore”, Ms Morrison added.

It will not act as a “pharmacy wish list but an independent, authoritative look at what we have to offer patients, but also at what we need to change ourselves”.

Read more: Pharmacy bodies blast ‘devastating’ English funding deal

However, Ms Morrison also acknowledged that PSNC must remain “realistic”. 

It will be “a challenge” for PSNC’s voice to be heard during such “difficult economic times”, when “the outlook for public spending is so bleak”, she said.

PSNC has continued to speak with NHSE and the DH following the conclusion of negotiations for year 4 and 5 of the CPCF, she confirmed.

Read more: Our new PM is the son of a pharmacist – but will he cough up the cash?

“Given what’s been going on over the last two months, three months politically, we would be nuts if we were only talking to the current government,” she added.

“We have to build broader relationships across all of the political parties. We can’t just rely on one guy because his mum was a pharmacist, we’ve got to be building the advocacy.”

Last month, it was announced that Rishi Sunak, whose mother was a pharmacist, had become Prime Minister after taking over from Liz Truss.

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