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PSNC: GP contract could lead to ‘further’ pharmacy closures

Dukes: General practice investment will “hardly feel like good news to community pharmacies”
Dukes: General practice investment will “hardly feel like good news to community pharmacies”

The GP contract for the next four years puts more “financial stress” on the pharmacy sector and could lead to “further” pharmacy closures, PSNC has warned.

The demand for pharmacy staff will rise and with it the “cost of labour, a position which seems all the more untenable given the complete refusal of the government and NHS to recognise pharmacies’ costs in delivering their ambitions set out in the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee CEO Simon Dukes said in response to the GP contract announcement on Friday (February 7).

He added that the extra funding “will hardly feel like good news to community pharmacies”.

“Overall, we think this deal will put yet more financial stress on a sector that is in an increasingly unsustainable fiscal environment, increasing the risk that we will see further pharmacy closures happening randomly and affecting those patients who need their community pharmacists the most,” he said.

New GP contract

NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) have committed at least £1.5bn for general practice over the next four years through the new GP contract.

This additional funding will help general practice deliver 50 million more appointments and recruit 6,000 more primary care professionals, including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, to work in primary care networks (PCNs), the DH said in a statement published last week (February 6).

“In the light of this new investment in general practice, we trust that funds can also be found for community pharmacy when pharmacy contract discussions resume,” a National Pharmacy Association spokesperson told C+D today (February 10).

Invest in community pharmacy

Prevention is one of the government’s key priorities, Mr Dukes said, and the NHS “must start investing in this area through community pharmacies”.

“Pharmacies already see some 1.6 million people every day” and investing in public health services “that make the most of these interactions” could take the pressure off GPs and other health services, he added.

PCN roles reimbursed

As part of the new contract, GP leaders have agreed with NHS England that all PCN roles “will be reimbursed 100% of [their] actual salary” from April. The NHS had previously pledged to cover 70% of the cost of professionals employed through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme – which now also includes pharmacy technicians.

“The additional reimbursement for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians shows how important they will be to helping PCNs deliver better and safer care for patients,” Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Board chair Professor Claire Anderson said.

The RPS “hopes the 100% reimbursement will encourage PCNs to recruit into these new roles”, she added.

However, the government needs to invest in the “education, training and recruitment of pharmacists” as “PCNs will only be able to move as quickly as the workforce grows and develops”, she said.

“Workforce drain”

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck welcomed the addition of pharmacy technicians to the roles that will be fully reimbursed by NHS England for their work in networks, and said the organisation supports “the wider use of technician skillsets and encourages collaboration with PCNs”.

However, the organisation is “becoming increasingly worried about the impact that the further workforce drain will have on community pharmacy”, she told C+D today (February 10).

“This is particularly a big concern for pharmacies in rural areas and deep within communities where recruitment of workforce remains difficult.

“Millions of patients walk through the doors of community pharmacies every day and without the relevant workforce, the pharmacy network and patient care will suffer. We encourage the use of these skillsets, with appropriate funding, to stay within community pharmacy.”

14 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the new GP contract?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I feel this article shows a level of disconnection. When given an alternative option, professionals are choosing to move, and that should not come as a surprise, in my opinion.

Community Pharmacy needs to evolve to be more enticing, in my opinion. How does that look? I think that the question needs a comprehensive discussion and direction.

PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

Welcome Simon to the world of pharmacy in England.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

The real problem is that no one with any power gives a damn.  This is amply demonstrated by the fact that the GP surgery in Brighton closed due to Coronavirus seems to have an adjacent or attached Pharmacy which was also seemed to be getting a deep clean. this got no mention at all... I suspect if it had been a macdonalds it would have been headline news. It hasnt even appeared here in C&D.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

...and now it has been mentioned. Look at you causing news stories! Although to be fair, there are quite a few places that could do with a deep clean beyond wiping down surfaces.

Sunil Patel, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

It is really sad what is happening to community pharmacy. What baffles me is that the negotiator is talking about more pharmacies will close as a result of this and others like AIMPs are pointing out the workforce drain we are experiencing right now and yet, the NPA who should be representing their members and understand what they are going through are saying that they "trust funds will be found for community pharmacy"! So out of touch with reality ........ 

Angry Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Negiotiating committee? lol is that what they're called? Maybe they should re-brand themselves as the bending-over-at-will committee instead which would fit their job descriptions perfectly 

John Ellis, Community pharmacist

Maybe a complete rejection of the current pharmacy contract should be put to a vote. All prescriptions would automatically become private, with each patient bearing the cost. This was the system before the NHS, and is one probably favoured by the NHS.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Personally, I'm in favour of the Universal Prescription Charge. Everyone pays a flat fee of £1 per item. Gives the NHS an extra £300 million or so a year, plus multiple administration savings?

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

Social medical care such as the NHS is here, as in 6 of the 7 "G7" countries, and will never be abandoned. Sadly the NHS in the U.K is too generous, and is being abused.The only way to stop wastage and bring a halt to the spiralling costs, is to get the recepient patient to share in the "Costs Burden". In the case of the pharmacy sector, the DOH could create a "White List" of services and drugs that is allowed and anything outside the list is disallowed, and such list can be referred to the patient in event of any dispute. The white list should exclude all [P] and [GSL] catagories, and if the patient wants it then they can purchase the same.This will lead to a greater footfall into pharmacy, and hence sales. Secondly the volume led contract should be disincentivised, so as to free up the pharmacist to concenterate on "Services" and spend a bit more time and involvement in dealing with counter medicines.

 

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

It’s the GPS themselves that have created this ‘beast’......why they think it’s OK to prescribe all these products for ‘self limiting’ illnessses is beyond me......sort this out and it’ll have the knock in effect of freeing up appointments?

Maybe another medicine class should be made? We have POM, P and GSL....maybe what they need is something the equivalent of a fit note - an order that is sent EPS (like a prescription’ but it’s for a product that has to be bought.....

It’ll be a slow process, but eventually Joe Bloggs will catch on to the fact it’s probably quicker/easier to just go to the pharmacy first - it would then improve the way Joe Bloggs sees the Pharmacist, whilst improving patients responsibility for their own health.

 

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

This current system the DOH have set up whereby ‘GPS are encouraged to not prescribe for self limiting conditions’ s too woolly - it needs to be a fact,not open to     Interpretation as all it means is some GPS at stringer than others, so some patients get what they want and others don’t = complaints. Which isn’t actually fai on the GPS or the patients. There is no incentive for GPS not to prescribe....maybe saying it’s OK to prescribe but the costs come out of your budgets if you do might have the desired effect - I’m sure they’ll stop prescribing then......

 

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

Not like we at the surgeries want to prescribe otc stuff, it's more like patients who used to get it on script get really snappy and pushy when told we can no longer do it, and once it was given they keep coming back for even more! Most of them just got spoiled historically and not willing to pay for a penny for any meds because they are ''entitled'' to it! I am up for blacklisting every otc items so we can stand our grounds and refuse all these requests.

Tired Manager, Community pharmacist

Yes, having just switched over to primary Care I can confirm that patients do complain in writing if they do not get prescribed a difflam spray that a now-retired consultant once suggested back in 1996

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I agree with you Caroline, very clear cut rules on items that are available to purchase at a Pharmacy should not being prescribed would benefit the NHS greatly.

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