Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) expects the next round of negotiations to set the arrangements for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) in 2022/23 – Year 4 of the five-year CPCF deal, to begin soon.
The negotiator held a meeting on November 24 and 25 to discuss the burning issues affecting the sector and to plan for upcoming negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).
It aims to complete these negotiations by April, allowing ample time for contractors to make arrangement prior to the beginning of the financial year.
PSNC vice-chair, and independent contractor, Bharat Patel said the entire sector is worried about the “outlook for pharmacies as we head into a difficult winter,” and is working to find solutions.
He noted that PSNC “will be bringing proposals for additional funding and support, particularly around the treatment of ‘walk-in’ patients, to the table, along with a heavy dose of realism for government and the NHS about the current challenges in the sector.”
While expecting a difficult round of discussion with the government, Patel remained optimistic about a favourable outcome for pharmacies.
Key issues discussed in the recent meeting included:
PSNC members expressed concerns over contractors’ struggle to recruit staff and pharmacists, and reported a steep rise in their wages bill. They noted that some pharmacies have also been forced to close due to workforce crisis.
This is expected to be a critical topic in the upcoming negotiations.
Members acknowledged that the ongoing funding squeeze is putting unsustainable pressure on pharmacy businesses. Therefore, despite the rejection of earlier bid for an uplift to the CPCF funding, PSNC will raise this issue again and “will consider how best to do this”.
PSNC expressed its frustration as the “work that was supposed to help pharmacies to free up capacity through the five-year CPCF deal has not yet been delivered.”
The committee analysed possible ways to help pharmacies to free up capacity.
With an increased number of people walking into pharmacies seeking advice on minor conditions or with their existing health conditions, PSNC views that these ‘walk-ins’ must be fully funded.
The negotiator said that it would make “the case for this as part of the upcoming negotiations.”
Other topics of discussions included Annual Review of the CPCF on which more information is expected soon.
The committee also heard the latest Review Steering Group thinking about the future of both national and local community pharmacy representation.