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PSNC “correct to highlight” provision of free services, sector says

The CCA and AIMp support PSNC’s aim to negotiate more funding for pharmacies

Community pharmacy has largely come out in favour of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s (PSNC) calls for contractors to stop providing unfunded free services.

Last week (August 21), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) called for pharmacy owners to “reconsider” providing services that are not part of the community pharmacy contractual framework for free.

The call to action came as PSNC branded the financial situation that pharmacies are in as “very treacherous”, and said more funding is needed for the sector.

A spokesperson for the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA)  told C+D on Friday (August 21) that the CCA “agrees that free services may well not be sustainable in the current financial climate and that each business will be faced with some hard decisions”.

Patient care has been a priority for pharmacies throughout the pandemic and will remain so, they added.

The representative body “fully supports PSNC’s work to negotiate funding for the full costs for contractors of operating during COVID-19 and funding for the future”, the spokesperson added.

AIMp: Funding model must reflect sector

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies chief executive Leyla Hannbeck told C+D today (August 24) that “as pharmacy moves towards a more service-based and clinical network, the funding model will need to move to reflect these changes”.

“The sector’s credentials of access, convenience and resilience have never been so visible or effective as they are today,” she said. AIMp believes the “decision to do more for the same” should now be “superseded by real investment in the sector,” Ms Hannbeck  continued.

However, a change to the funding  setup to reflect the move towards a service-based pharmacy model is “unlikely to be achieved with safety and stability if, at the same time, oversimplified assumptions are being made about the cost of providing the core service,” Ms Hannbeck said.

“In our opinion, it is correct to highlight that some patient-supporting features are not sustainable indefinitely and to instigate public debate,” she added.

RPS: Government must back pharmacy with funding

Professor Claire Anderson, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English board, told C+D today that the government now needs to back pharmacy with fair funding, so it can continue supporting patients in the months ahead,” especially in light of the possibility of a “second wave” of COVID-19.

Community pharmacy teams “deserve to be recognised for the role they play and the services they provide”, she added.

“Free services are a lifeline to many patients”

Commenting on PSNC’s advice to contractors, Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director of JWW Allison in Cockermouth, Cumbria said that while he agrees with the advice “in principle”, he is “not quite sure how you would put this into practice without compromising patient care and your reputation”.

“I know that many will say it’s our own fault and maybe they’re correct, but it doesn’t change the fact that free services such as deliveries are a lifeline to many patients. It just shouldn’t be us who are funding it,” he told C+D today.

Babir Malik, a community pharmacist based in Yorkshire, said the PSNC's statement is " long overdue".

"The profession, while caring, has been too nice for [its] own good," he added.

7 Comments
Question: 
Do you provide free services to patients?

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

It's clear the only reason a pharmacy would provide a 'free service' is to capture the increased prescription volume. No person owning business in their right mind would invest in a delivery service because it's a life line to patients. The problem is that if this service is withdrawn they'll be another pharmacy will provide the service and sweep up the business. The problem further is that each community pharmacy doesn't provide a unique service. Supplying medication doesn't attach loyalty in the long term. For example you can have a loyal patient for 20 years who you have a great relationship with and supply their meds via delivery. But as soon as the delivery service is withdrawn they'll switch to the competitor who will do deliveries. It's as simple as that!

Richard Judge, Manager

Is this the PSNC getting ready to announce that they will negociate a payment for deliveries? It would certainly be good new for the likes of pharmacy2U

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

I agree with Nat Mitchell that free services may be a lifeline to many patients but as long as we are prepared to take up the slack from our own pockets, the government will let us. And I am not convinced that us not delivering compromised patient care - I don't see supermarkets fretting if people can't get out to buy food

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

It is surprising how the government saw deliveries as essential, so begrudgingly paid for them (but only as a last resort) which has now ceased, other than in areas with local lockdown. So, clearly, that is the message we must give patients

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Locums are increasingly being forced to provide free services all the time.
Should they stop too?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

I think you need to differentiate between "non-contract services provided at your cost" and "expansion of the role"

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I don't do anything for free anymore. It's up to you, can't advise due to laws of this land. The way I see it there is nothing free in life

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