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Future funding deals for community pharmacists will reward quality and service provision

By News team

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has still not reached a funding settlement with NHS England for this year, said Sue Sharpe, PSNC chief executive, at this year’s local pharmaceutical committee conference held in London yesterday (5 November 2013). She added that this was the latest time on record for a settlement to be reached. However, she hopes one will be agreed by the end of the year.

Mrs Sharpe explained that the delays had been caused by the fact that NHS England, which has taken over the contract negotiations on behalf of the Department of Health, did not exist until April.

In her opening talk at the LPC conference, she said that there would be a definite shift in the focus of future funding settlements towards rewarding quality and service provision. She stressed the importance of pharmacy making a strong case for being a service provider and for expanding its role and importance in the NHS.

“If we don’t, we face unparalleled threats… . Keith Ridge, [chief pharmaceutical officer at the Department of Health] said he thinks we have too many community pharmacies, others suggested there are 3,000 too many pharmacies [PJ, 2013;291:458] — that is a huge wakeup call,” she warned. “The greatest strength we have is that we have a pharmacy team that can provide support, care and relationships with patients.

“Pharmacy needs to sort out how it’s going to balance its service role versus its supply role,” she said, arguing that if pharmacy lost its role as a provider of commissioned services, large-scale supply operations driven by technology would quickly take over the supply function for patients taking medicines for long-term conditions. “That seems to me very scary.”

Speaking to PJ Online after the conference, Mrs Sharpe said that she did not want to see the separation of supply and service provision and that pharmacy has got to therefore build patient care around supply of medicines.

She also argued that technology could be positive for community pharmacy. “As we move to embrace new services and move to try to find ways in which we can work with much closer integration with general practice than we have done before, it is really important that we embrace and adopt new technologies. Traditionally, pharmacists have been very passive recipients of new technology … that has got to change, we have got to see technology as a great enabler for us and not have it as a great block,” she added.

She said the impending crisis in urgent care would provide opportunities for pharmacy to demonstrate its ability to keep old and frail people out of accident and emergency departments. She added that pharmacists should take on greater responsibility for management of long-term conditions.

Mrs Sharpe said there would be a “call to action” for pharmacy in the next month by the NHS. “We will need to make the case for what pharmacy can do,” she said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11129862

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