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National pharmacy contracts

Better price concession system among NPA demands for community pharmacy contract negotiations

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has outlined a list of eight demands for the next community pharmacy contract in a letter sent to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

The letter, sent from Mark Lyonette, chief executive of the NPA, to Simon Dukes, chief executive of the PSNC, on 3 June 2019, comes during a period of contract negotiations between the PSNC and the Department of Health and Social Care.

In the letter, Lyonette stressed the need for “radical change”, as pharmacy is “on the brink of facing an uncontrolled and unpredictable series of closures” brought about by the “devastating effect” of the 2016 funding cuts.

To mitigate the “untenable” situation facing community pharmacy, Lyonette also called for “a more responsive and effective price concession system which ends the unacceptable practice of dispensing at a loss”.

“Independents are being disadvantaged by a system based on averaging. Smaller independents cannot spread the risk across an estate or hope to have losses averaged out,” he said. “That means they can be at the mercy of factors beyond their control, such as hikes in medicines prices and increased branded generic prescribing.”

The NPA’s letter also called for “recognition that there is not a surplus of pharmacists”, adding that plans to increase the number of pharmacists in new primary care networks, “rather than increasing the supply of community pharmacists and making greater use of community pharmacists’ skills, is wasteful for the taxpayer”.

His concerns echo those of the Company Chemists’ Association, which said in February 2019 that NHS England’s plan to include six pharmacists in each primary care network by 2024 “doesn’t marry” with recruitment trends in the profession.

Lyonette concluded in the letter that “successful” negotiations would include “a multi-year settlement to replace the legacy arrangement of one-year rolling contracts and payments focused on quality outcomes, giving pharmacy owners the confidence to modernise and invest in patient services”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206667

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