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Politicians consider ‘open session’ to debate service-based contract

Kevin Barron chaired an APPG session on long-term condition management
Kevin Barron chaired an APPG session on long-term condition management

The all-party pharmacy group (APPG) may look to “take evidence in public” on the “shape” of a new pharmacy contract, its chair has told C+D.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) revealed in January that it will lay out plans for a service-based contract in its upcoming funding negotiations with the government.

APPG chair and Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron told C+D last week (March 7) that a funding settlement for 2018-19 is “on its way”, and the group may look to hold “open sessions” on “what form” the contract should take.

This does not mean “negotiating in public”, Mr Barron stressed, but instead “looking at” a new contract “as it's shaping up”.

Mr Barron suggested that part of the Pharmacy Integration Fund – which made headlines last year when it was revealed not all the money allocated for community pharmacy had been spent on schedule – could be invested into a new pharmacy contract.

“Let's see more of what community pharmacy can do on the service side – the burden it can lift off GPs and other primary care medical services, but also from the acute sector,” he told C+D after an APPG session on long-term conditions in the House of Lords.

“We need to use pharmacists’ clinical skills,” he added. “We should be looking at having a flexible way of making sure that GPs and pharmacies work better together.”

“If you can manage without a prescription medicine, you should,” he said. “I would hope that these fundamental things have been looked at by the department [of Health and Social Care] and PSNC when negotiations come along.”

To inform their session, Mr Barron said the APPG may look at pharmacy funding in “one or two” other countries, such as Canada.

At the Labour party conference last year, Mr Barron told C+D that he would like to see the healthy living pharmacy initiative included in the contract for 2018-19.

What else happened at the APPG sessions?

Mr Barron chaired the second of two APPG sessions on long-term condition management. The first session – chaired by APPG vice-chair and MP for St Austell and Newquay Steve Double – was held on February 27 and heard how community pharmacies are managing patients with conditions such as atrial fibrillation and skin diseases.

See C+D digital reporter Thomas Cox’s highlights from both the events here.

What you like to see included in a new funding contract?

Brian Austen, Senior Management

There needs to be a new mantra from independent pharmacy contractors. "If a service is not fully funded it does not exist." NHS England and PSNC will soon get the message.

Pharmacy Professional, Manager

Pharmacists are being pushed to offer more for less. If those people in high places are looking to free up GPs by utilising pharmacists, then they should do so by rewarding pharmacists, not penalising them. Stressing again on rewarding pharmacists, not the greedy businesses.
As pharmacists, we don't want to lose what we already have (eg. Supervision), and don't have room to accommodate more (services). In my opinion, this calls for giving pharmacists the opportunity to choose from the wide range of services that they are interested in providing, and rewarding them for these services that they take on. I believe many of you will agree that we all have different areas of interest in the profession - if one person is keen on respiratory health, another might be interested in cardiovascular health or CNS. This way, pharmacists could choose from a reasonable range of specific services they are keen on providing, rather than having a pharmacist with a cocktail of services.
There are various options on how pharmacists can provide these services:
1. Through community pharmacies- where the pharmacist books his/her shifts solely for these services (eg. Smoking cessation or asthma reviews, etc, etc)
2. Through GP surgeries
3. Setting up their own clinics with a spectrum of services - probably the least favourite as the funding would get diverted to pay these clinics, and additional quality monitoring and inspections. This could work effectively if proper thought and planning is put into it.
Patients could be signposted through hospitals, pharmacies and gp surgeries.This would allow pharmacists to cope with the workload in individual pharmacies, and allow
services to be carried out parallel to it, rather than mixing it all up in the same place.

amardeep bindra, Community pharmacist

More for less, and never complain because there is no real union. UK pharmacists need to strike against working conditions, remuneration, and being bossed around by people with zero qualifications. It's the only way to raise awareness of what we are going through.

Brian Austen, Senior Management

A situation is developing here that will end up with pharmacies dispensing the same or more items and on top of that providing additional services but the overall contract income will remain the same or be reduced still further. Then every one can thank the PSNC for pushing the idea in the first place. I don't understand why people don't get that!

amardeep bindra, Community pharmacist

For the last 10 years, pharmacists have been expected to do more work for the same or less money. We are obviously a soft option. If you were in charge why wouldn't you push for it?

Eventually we will reach a situation where pharmacists are qualifying and finding that they can only earn minimum wage, whilst all their friends are laughing at them for entering such a greedy and corrupted profession.

Absolutely outrageous, scandalous and despicable that big chains can avoid tens of millions in tax by using tax avoidance scams but if you make an error you could get a suspended prison sentence!

Mark Koziol, you are our only hope!

amardeep bindra, Community pharmacist

Why are people trying to change the contract for pharmacists, when they already have more work than they can do? Fix what we have first before introducing changes that have not been thought through by anyone who counts.

The UK pharmacy industry is nothing like it is in Canada. They are vastly different. Canada has so many good ideas in the world of pharmacy, and the staff get paid properly, so it is nothing like here.

I don't know where Mr Barron gets his information, but I see that he is not a pharmacist. He is a politician.

Draw your own inferences on that given that the multiples have the most money and most clout, and that nobody is willing to go up against them.

Politicians and the CEOs of massive conglomerates always seem to agree with each other. I wonder why that is?

The UK pharmacy industry is as transparent as a muddy puddle.

Lies, corruption and backhanded bribes seem to be the order of the day. The more money you have, the more people you can buy off in order to control the industry.

Let's see if a massive scandal comes out on international news regarding this matter, but I won't say I told you so!


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