As the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) committee members meet over two days of virtual events, there is “a growing sense of deep frustration and increasing irritation” at the lack of progress around funding negotiations for England’s pharmacies, the negotiator’s chief executive Simon Dukes has said.
In an impassioned blog post, Mr Dukes stressed that PSNC is “being forced to be increasingly public about the situation we find ourselves in”, as the government and policy makers fail to adequately compensate the sector, especially for its work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The financial evidence of the costs that community pharmacy has borne in helping the NHS get through this pandemic is crystal clear,” Mr Dukes stressed in the blog, which was posted yesterday (February 3).
“After 12 months of supporting the NHS through the clinical and pharmaceutical services you provide your patients, and still no resolution on COVID-19 costs, the government is in effect asking you to pay for the privilege.”
PSNC is “yet to receive a formal offer or response” from the Treasury on its bid to forego the requirement to pay back the £370 million advance payment secured in “recognition of the significant cashflow pressures facing the sector… in the COVID-19 pandemic”, Mr Dukes told C+D today (February 4).
“To date, negotiations have been extremely challenging. We are meeting with ministers on an ongoing basis to make our case directly to them,” he added.
Mr Dukes used his blog post to highlight regular themes in funding discussions for the sector, which includes: “refusal of officials to treat pharmacies as the core part of the NHS that they are”; resistance to “conversations about fair margins and value”; and “long delays” from officials, while PSNC is given “tight deadlines” to work to.
“The sector must not be bullied,” Mr Dukes stated.
“We will continue to hold the NHS and government to account privately for their decisions and processes – but we will also now say more in public alongside the other pharmacy bodies if we don’t get positive outcomes soon.”