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PSNC defends clinical vision in face of reader criticism

Alastair Buxton: PSNC plan builds on existing services

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton responds to concerns the negotiator ignored pharmacy's supply role in its strategy


The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has defended its vision for the sector against criticism from C+D readers. 

PSNC said it released the plan last week (February 9) – which includes recommendations for providing COPD assessments and increasing the number of independent prescribers – because the government has “no specific proposals” to broaden the sector’s clinical role .

The three-phase plan came under fire from readers, who said it failed to consider the forthcoming funding cuts and ignored pharmacists’ supply role. 

Lack of funding

Some readers dismissed the proposals as “pie in the sky” thinking, saying the government’s planned 6% cut to pharmacy funding in England made the prospect of new services unlikely. 

Community pharmacist Clive Hodgson said the plans need “considerable additional funds” which were “unlikely” to appear. Community pharmacist Giedrius Vaiciulis said the plans would create “ questionable services with less pay”

PSNC's response: 

PSNC agreed it would be “unaffordable” for contractors to offer all the services set out in the plan.

“The proposals outline how we might develop the clinically focused service the government wants. We produced the proposals to drive a constructive discussion and [they] are now being considered,” it told C+D this week (February 16).

Ignoring the supply role

Readers also accused PSNC of ignoring pharmacists’ supply function in its plans.

Pharmacist Meera Sharma said dispensing is a “core part” of pharmacy practice. “This very role is being threatened by a % cut in funding. How are we responding to this?” she asked.

A community pharmacist posting on the C+D website as Chris Pharmacist said there is “no new role” available to those who want to move away from dispensing.

“Pharmacists would adapt [but] GPs oppose it [and] the NHS doesn’t want to pay for it.”

PSNC’s response:

PSNC head of NHS services Alastair Buxton told C+D the negotiator aims to keep the “vital” supply role “at the heart” of the sector . Its plan “incorporates and builds on the services that we already have to enable pharmacy teams to offer better care for patients,” he added.

Unrealistic proposals

A community pharmacist posting on the C+D website as P Harmacist said the plans could not have been designed by “front-line pharmacists”. “Unless there’s at least two pharmacists on duty at all times in every pharmacy, then [the proposals] will not work.”

One superintendent pharmacist said PSNC should stop pushing for a national minor ailments service. “The government has stated it does not want [it]. Prescribing is the future, but [there’s] not a chance in hell of getting it past doctors.”

PSNC’s response:

Mr Buxton told C+D that PSNC will keep pushing for a national minor ailments service. “Given the significant number of local commissioners continuing to fund minor ailments services, it is only right that we continue to make the case,” he added.


More news on the funding cuts...

PSNC responds to funding cuts with 'clinical' vision

Kirit Patel: Government won’t back down on funding cut

Government to 'phase out' establishment payments


What do you think of PSNC's response?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

PSNC should define the clinical skill set which community pharmacy or pharmacists possess, then its clinical role and services. As a pharmacist I am still gaining more after over thirty years on the register and still have someway to go as having done a clinical diploma,msc in prescribing, long term disease management in diabetes, respiratory, minor illness and now a clinical practice degree it has taught me that community pharmacists have a long way to go yet.

Alastair Buxton, Community pharmacist

Sam and Annabelle have chosen to selectively quote from PSNC's reponse to the reader comments. For the sake of transparency the full text of our reponse is pasted below:

"The planned reduction in funding will reduce pharmacies' ability to offer services and it would of course be unaffordable for them to offer all the services set out in our plan within that funding. The service proposals we tabled reflected the absence of any proposals in the 17 December letter and they outline how we might develop the clinically focussed service the Government wants. We produced the proposals to attempt to drive a constructive discussion and the proposals are now being considered."

“A drive to increase use of the repeat dispensing service and to facilitate more regular consultations between patients and pharmacists at the point at which prescriptions are dispensed form a core part of our service proposals. The plan keeps the supply of medicines at the heart of community pharmacy, with everything else built around that vital and valuable function. It also incorporates and builds on the services that we already have to enable pharmacy teams to offer better care for patients; which is exactly what we should be doing."

"NHS England last year began negotiations with us on a national minor ailments service and we have received no feedback from them on why they decided not to take this service forward at the last minute. Given the significant number of local commissioners continuing to fund or express an interest in minor ailments services, and the benefits and value that we know a national service could bring for patients and the NHS, it is only right that we continue to make the case for this.” 

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Alistair, I hope you make it crystal clear to NHS England that if any of these new proposals are to go ahead then they must attract new funding. Pharmacists have been doing far too much for free for decades as the PSNC used to tell us to provide services and funding will follow. Nobody believes that anymore, if they ever did.



Harry Tolly, Pharmacist


Who does the PSNC "consult" with before making these sort of ridiculous proposals to the DoH ?


Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

Cheers Alastair ! Its Friday after all !!

The solution is much simpler. Change the Global Sum distribution model and engage with your ALL contractors not just the multiples . Not rocket science......................................................,+says+Avicenna+chief/1669


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