The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has commissioned Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund to develop a new vision and strategic options for community pharmacy.
The report is expected to be published in early summer next year, to underpin the future strategy for the sector. It will also support negotiations between PSNC and policymakers as the current five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) comes to an end.
Those negotiations will decide what happens after April 2024, and they will be critical to the future of the sector.
The development of a compelling vision and an effective strategy for community pharmacy was a key recommendation from the Pharmacy Representation Review Steering Group (RSG). It forms one of the workstreams of the Transforming Pharmacy Representation Programme (TAPR) currently being undertaken by PSNC. But it is also a project that PSNC wants to undertake anyway to help lay the foundations for those crucial upcoming negotiations.
The Vision Project
Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund will work very closely with the community pharmacy sector throughout the project. Pharmacy will contribute to both a Steering Group and an Advisory Panel which will advise on the work, and pharmacy owners and teams, LPCs and all others in the sector will be invited to take part in two consultation exercises, one launching in November.
They also plan to consult a wide range of experts from outside pharmacy, such as senior policy leads at NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, primary care commissioning leads in Integrated Care Systems, national voices such as Healthwatch and other consumer/patient groups, and representatives of other healthcare professionals and providers.
Alongside detailed interviews with key experts, the report authors will consider literature and evidence from across the world, and PSNC will organise working groups on services, funding, digital and technology, and workforce to feed into the work.
Detailed timings and membership of the Steering, Advisory and working groups are just being finalised, and more information will be issued on these soon.
The goals for the final vision report are that it will:
- Set out ambitions for community pharmacy to demonstrate to Government and commissioners its vital and potentially growing role in primary care, and how it will deliver value for money and better patient outcomes.
- Enable the community pharmacy sector to unite behind shared goals and ambitions and start to consider how it will need to change to deliver its full potential.
- Develop, as far as possible, with Government and the NHS, a shared agenda and the case for a sustainably funded sector to deliver on shared goals.
The report will draw out key areas where community pharmacy can contribute to critical policy agendas and challenges facing the NHS. It will focus not just on recommendations for areas of priority action, but it will also pay attention to the key enablers for successful change at scale, and the obstacles and barriers that will need to be managed.
PSNC believes this independent report will be a critical step in the ongoing work to secure a sustainable future for the sector. As an independent report from two extremely well-respected organisations, PSNC hopes the vision will help to persuade policy-makers to think differently about community pharmacy, supporting the need for more investment in the sector.
Commenting on the launch of the project, PSNC Chief Executive, Janet Morrison said: “As we head into a very difficult winter for all community pharmacy contractors, it is critical that alongside our ongoing discussions with Government we look ahead to what comes after the five-year deal ends. We need to tell Government and the NHS what we can do for them and for patients, and to demonstrate why they must invest in us. This project should do just that, with two very powerful voices leading and writing a report which we will make sure policy-makers cannot ignore.
“We have tasked Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund with listening very carefully to the community pharmacy sector throughout this work – we need their report to reflect your views. But the report’s real strength will also come from its independence. This won’t be a pharmacy wish list, but an independent, authoritative look at what we have to offer patients, but also at what we need to change ourselves. As two of the most highly regarded and influential organisations within the healthcare policy sector, when Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund have something to say, Government and the NHS listen. We are delighted to have them on board.
“PSNC sees this as a critical piece of work as we try to get the sector onto a sustainable footing. We are really looking forward to the final report and to using that to map out a better strategic way ahead, and to working hard to negotiate a better deal for the sector.”
Bharat Patel, PSNC vice-chair and an independent community pharmacy contractor, said: “As severe financial constraints and other problems continue to pile pressure on community pharmacy, many pharmacy businesses are facing their most precarious winter yet. Urgent help is needed, and this vision and strategic options are all about trying to get that.
“Although PSNC is the driver behind this work, we are very conscious that this needs to be a shared piece of work – we believe the Advisory, Steering and working groups, combined with the two consultations, will allow that to happen and all views to be heard. But contractors should also be prepared for some of the challenging conversations that this work is likely to prompt, and for the changes it may mean for community pharmacies.
“As we start to plan for the next critical Contractual Framework negotiations, we hope the development of this vision and strategic options will help us to influence Government and NHS thinking about pharmacy, and to lay the ground for a better future for all pharmacy businesses. We hope that as many contractors and LPCs as can do will engage with the project and we look forward to hearing your views.”