The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has initiated the negotiation process with a set of proposals which have been agreed with NHS England. These have now been shared with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).
The negotiations will take the form of tripartite discussions between representatives from all three organisations.
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:
“PSNC is pleased to be able to begin these negotiations; the outcome of which will be absolutely critical for all pharmacy contractors in England. There are going to be some difficult conversations over the coming months but our Negotiating Team includes experienced PSNC members from both the independent and multiple sectors, so contractors can be assured that we will be well equipped and absolutely committed to getting the best possible deal for community pharmacy. Our priority is to seek a sustainable future for community pharmacy to enable us to better utilise the skills and knowledge of pharmacy teams to help people stay well in the community.”
Commenting today, NPA Chief Executive, Mark Lyonette, said:
“We are very pleased that negotiations are finally underway. The NPA, PSNC and indeed all the national pharmacy bodies have been working hard to build trust with officials and elected politicians, providing a solid platform for the negotiations.
“This is a significant moment in the long history of community pharmacy and we hope all parties to the negotiation will be ambitious about the future. Community pharmacies need to be recognised as the front door to health – an indispensable component of the urgent care pathway, vibrant health & wellbeing hubs and a mainstay of support for people with long term medical conditions. The current financial pressures are a powerful disincentive to pharmacy owners to invest in NHS services. The negotiations provide an opportunity to change that, so pharmacies can step up to meet the challenges laid out in the NHS long term plan.
“A successful outcome would include a clear direction on service development and a multi-year settlement, giving pharmacy owners the confidence to modernise and invest in patient services. We do not need to stand still until the outcome of the negotiations is known. At a local level, there is an urgent need to engage with the emerging NHS commissioning infrastructure, so the NPA is pressing ahead with a programme of support for independent representatives on LPCs. We are also developing a digital strategy to help independent pharmacies become more efficient and better connected, whatever lies ahead.
“The fact that the start of negotiations has been publicly announced is a first for pharmacy in England in recent times. This is perhaps a sign of a maturing relationship between the sector and its biggest paymaster, the NHS.”