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PSNC: Funding cuts court appeal mustn't interfere with contract talks

Sue Sharpe: Pharmacy's work over winter should prove its worth to government
Sue Sharpe: Pharmacy's work over winter should prove its worth to government

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC)’s court appeal against the funding cuts “must not interfere” with its upcoming contract negotiations, its CEO has said.

PSNC announced last month it was taking proposals for a service-based community pharmacy contract into its next round of funding negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care (DH).

Speaking to C+D after her session at Sigma Pharmaceuticals’ annual conference in Borneo last week (February 12), PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said negotiations have not yet started on the sector's funding for 2018-19.

She “hopes” that discussions will begin before PSNC and the National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) parallel High Court appeals against the pharmacy funding cuts in England, which are scheduled to be heard over three days from May 22, she told C+D.

Ms Sharpe told pharmacy minister Steve Brine last autumn that the appeal “must not interfere” with the upcoming negotiations, she said.

Rather than assessing the facts of the funding cuts, the “appeal is on a point of law only”, Ms Sharpe stressed. “It really mustn’t interfere with the work we've got to do on behalf of community pharmacy and with the work [the DH] needs to do in terms of making sure that they get the best out of the sector,” she added.

While “dialogue is much better this year than it was last year”, Ms Sharpe said “it is going to take a little while before [the DH] is ready to really start to discuss the way forward”.

“When my successor Simon [Dukes] arrives in May, we’ll probably be at a stage where we have some developments that he can work on,” she added.

In the meantime, “we are in discussion with [the DH] about some interim measures that need to be put in place for the drug tariff in April, as we start the new financial year”, she said.

Care-based services “at the core”

Ms Sharpe used her session at the conference to review how the pharmacy contract and the negotiator’s relationship with the DH has changed during her time at PSNC.

Previous attempts to introduce a service-led contract for community pharmacy had “stalled” because of the global recession and “lukewarm” uptake of locally commissioned services, she told delegates.

When asked by C+D what will prevent current proposals for a similar service-focused contract from stalling – especially given the trend of locally decommissioning pharmacy services across England – Ms Sharpe said the contract will need to have “care-based services at the core…not just optional extras that are locally commissioned”.

Pharmacy's work “this winter” – including its role in the NHS England 'Stay Well this Winter' campaign, and the fact community pharmacies in England have so far delivered over one million vaccinations as part of the 2017-18 flu service – should be proof for the DH of “how much they need pharmacy”, she added.

What would you like to see in a new pharmacy contract?

Mohammed Patel, Community pharmacist

Valentine Trodd says it best.


Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Yawn. We really need to up our game.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

My favourite is the industry reps(enjoying the jolly up) who systematically and with alacrity defraud the NHS of millions with their supply shenanigans. For some reason this mob are spared any public ire and it is instead saved for immigrants and benefits claimamnt which is pennies in comparison. Shameful.

Brian Austen, Senior Management

Her record includes no successes only failures and being pushed around by NHS England. This type of performance in this type of organisation is usually defended by saying, "if we fell out with NHS England and refused to cooperate, things would be even worse". Does anyone honestly believe that! It is becoming a trend in UK to reward failure at the highest level and let the workforce deal with the consequences. No accountability.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

C'mon Sue, jog on... you had your chance. Enjoy your pension.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Given what she failed to do, I am so glad that I wasn’t in Borneo. She has never been relevant to pharmacy. 

Mohammed Patel, Community pharmacist

Glad she survived the trip to Borneo for the conference. It must have been horrible! Much worse than actually working in a pharmacy in the UK and earning your own money instead of spending other people's.

A service based contract is the final nail in the coffin for the UK pharmacy industry, and if anyone actually bothered to speak to real pharmacists (not ones who used to work for the RPSGB) then they would know this already.

As usual the desk jockeys will press on with stupid and ill-conceived ideas of how to improve the industry, whilst we keep working harder (being forced to perform useless tasks) for less and less to fund their trips to Borneo/Jamaica etc, and pay for their outrageous pensions.

Absolutely disgraceful that she's got the nerve to talk about pharmacy funding cuts while she's on a jolly half way around the world to a tropical paradise which she's not even paying for!!

it should be against the law.


S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Crying cuts the a conference in Borneo! Whats wrong with Blackpool? Skint contractors jetting off again after pleading poverty. What a joke


Dave Downham, Manager

Hate to agree with you, but....

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