Market volatility went “completely berserk” over the summer, with price rises, drug shortages, and the number of concessionary prices hitting an “all-time high”, Sue Sharpe told contractors at the local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) conference in Manchester on Wednesday (November 1).
“The whole thing has gone absolutely mad,” she said.
“Moved into unviability”
“There is a real concern now that we have some pharmacies with cashflow problems. Some pharmacies have moved into unviability,” Ms Sharpe continued. “This situation hasn't happened for many decades.”
She added the “vagaries of payments” mean it will be summer 2018 before the sector can “expect to see an increase in reimbursement prices”.
“The great problem at the moment is to identify whether the impact is a cash flow problem – that we may be able to get through – or whether there is an underlying issue [of whether some pharmacies can continue to operate] as a result of the swingeing cuts,” she said.
Limited benefit of rise in advance payments
The 15p-per-item increase in advance payments PSNC negotiated with pharmacy minister Steve Brine for November alone did “alleviate the worst of the dip for some”, Ms Sharpe said.
However, the increase did not provide “anything like the smooth delivery of income” that contractors “might have hoped for”, she said.
During PSNC's meeting with Mr Brine on October 23, the minister had been “very positive” in his views about community pharmacy. “But we need to get some meat on that before we move forward,” Ms Sharpe said.
She also admitted PSNC has not yet had any discussions with the Department of Health about negotiating national services for 2018-19.
“We have no idea whether we're going to get a negotiating mandate to move forward with services, or whether we're going to get nothing. For the last two years we have had nothing,” she stressed.
What else did Ms Sharpe say?
SS: Unless we get dialogue with GPS we're not going to move towards integrated care model #LPCconf— Thomas Cox (@CandDThomas) November 1, 2017
SS: We have to carry on pushing how pharmacy is seen, lobbying at every level #LPCconf— Thomas Cox (@CandDThomas) November 1, 2017
SS: There will be a "shaking out", but I am positive about the future #LPCconf— Thomas Cox (@CandDThomas) November 1, 2017