During a virtual meeting with LPCs last week (November 17), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) polled the 120 delegates, representing 68 LPCs, to understand what impact the pandemic has so far had on their work.
Asked how worried they are about the impact Brexit could have on pharmacy, more than three quarters (79%) of between 107 and 111 delegates who responded to the polls expressed concern.
Of these, half (50%) said they fear pharmacies “will be blamed for supply problems”, while almost a third (29%) believe the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, “combined with COVID-19,” could be “a disaster”. Additionally, 17% said they thought the UK’s departure from the EU would cause “some but not too many supply problems”.
PSNC found that an overwhelming 88% of respondents said they have “never been busier, but we’re ok” or “we’re too busy and struggling to meet demand”.
A smaller percentage, 7%, said they are “completely overwhelmed” and the negotiator said it will follow up with them to understand what support they need.
One in four respondents (40%) indicated that their primary care network (PCN) leads “are struggling to make progress”, while only 5% said their PCN leads are “well engaged”.
Improved stakeholder relationships
The vast majority of delegates reported that their relationships with local LPC stakeholders had improved during the pandemic.
Four fifths (80%) said they have either “built new relationships that will help leverage in the future” or “strengthened existing relationships”.
Two thirds (67%) of respondents said their LPC’s working relationship with PSNC has also improved during the pandemic, while a quarter (25%) felt “it is about the same as last year”.
PSNC said continuing to improve collaboration with LPCs will be “be a key focus” in 2021 and has appointed James Wood, currently CEO of Community Pharmacy Surrey and Sussex, as director of LPC and contractor support.
Avon LPC CEO Richard Brown, who attended the LPC and PSNC meeting, told C+D last week (November 19) that he is “glad that PSNC is asking those questions” because it shows it is “really starting to take a real interest in what’s happening with LPCs”.
“There were busy times in the past, but I suppose we’ve never benchmarked how busy LPCs are. We have to start to talk about these issues, so we start to support not only PSNC with their workload but LPCs with theirs,” he said.
The polls allowed LPC chief officers at the virtual meeting to see “that other people are in the same position as they are”, Mr Brown added.