The NHS England and NHS Improvement consultation on PCNs mentions five draft service specifications that PCNs will be required to deliver from April, this year

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has expressed concerns over the implementation and delivery of the proposed service specifications for Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

In its response to the NHS consultation on PCNs, the Society welcomed the proposal for additional medical and pharmacy workforce as part of the PCN agreement as it “would help to deliver the current workload and improve patient access.”

“Whilst we support the intention of these draft service specifications, we have concerns around implementation and delivery which we hope will be addressed during this consultation process. These include making best use of pharmacists’ skills and knowledge, the pace of implementation and impact on workload, workforce and recruitment,” RPS said in a statement.

The consultation, which closed on Wednesday, mentions five draft service specifications that PCNs will be required to deliver from April, this year.

According to the consultation document, an average PCN could engage around three whole-time equivalent (WTE) clinical pharmacists, 1.5 WTE social prescribing link workers, 0.5 WTE physiotherapists and 0.5 WTE physician associates from April 2020.

“This would provide more than sufficient capacity to deliver the requirements across all five services with significant capacity remaining for these additional roles to provide wider support to GP workforce pressures by handling appointments or queries that would otherwise have been the responsibly of the GP,” the document read.

RPS reiterated that it had long advocated for the increasing use of pharmacists’ skills and expertise across the NHS.

Last week, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) suggested NHS England should take more time to properly consult the profession and proposed to create new service specification that is less perspective, more locally relevant and realistic.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of RCGP, said: “Primary Care Networks are an opportunity to do things differently and increase support to practices by facilitating collaboration and increased funding getting to the frontline, but serious consideration needs to be given to how PCNs are developed and how the services they can offer are implemented.”

“This needs to be well-informed by those working in general practice, and the consultation period we have been given to feedback on the proposed specifications is far too short to be meaningful,” Marshall added.

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