The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) met with government officials twice this week to begin formal talks for a funding settlement for 2018-19, its director of funding Mike Dent told contractors at the local pharmaceutical committee conference in Birmingham on Wednesday (September 26).
CEO Simon Dukes stressed that while these initial conversations are not yet “substantive”, he is “very pleased” the negotiator has “embarked on a fresh approach” with the government.
PSNC wary of “service creep”
Entering negotiations means PSNC “has to be mindful of two things”, Mr Dukes told delegates.
“The first is that we have to be wary of what I call ‘service creep’. We have done a lot for free and we have to be wary of doing more things for free. It is because of our patient focus that that becomes so,” he said.
“The other thing to bear in mind is that we currently owe the government a lot of money from overpayment of margin in previous years. And that…leads to a very interesting situation from the point of view of negotiation.”
Mr Dent said that while he was unable to discuss the details of the initial funding conversations, the government is “prepared to work” with the negotiator to alleviate some of the sector’s current cashflow problems.
Mr Dukes also referred to concessions PSNC had secured in relation to the updated Quality Payments Scheme – which PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton set out at the conference – and said the negotiator “has also engaged with some of [the government’s] requirements on patient safety”.
PSNC “has to show a willingness to work with” the government after the “two-year hiatus” of funding negotiations, he added.
PSNC has previously said that it will use the negotiations to lay out a new service-based pharmacy contract to the government.