The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating (PSNC) has published an update on its ongoing negotiations related to funding and services.
Discussions on remuneration for contractors’ COVID-19 related costs are also underway, with PSNC using evidence of costs gathered from pharmacies across the sector to press for contractors’ costs to be covered in full by HM Government.
After a pause during the pandemic peak in the UK, discussions on the extension of referrals to the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS) from GP practices, and on changes to the Terms of Service have also now been resumed, and PSNC is pressing for all changes to be manageable for contractors.
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:
“2020 has been an extremely challenging year for community pharmacies. They have done an incredible job in meeting the increasing health needs of their patients and providing a walk-in clinical advice service for their local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. As well as helping people in need, this has supported other primary care and NHS services during a critical time.
“But the financial toll that this tremendous effort has taken on pharmacy businesses of all shapes and sizes is now being felt, and PSNC’s job is to make that case effectively to HM Government.
“As contractors and LPCs know, during the initial pandemic peak in the UK, PSNC was working round the clock to finalise new services and arrangements that supported contractors through the lockdown period – emergency funding injections, flexibility in opening hours, and a new national delivery service were some of the key outputs from the negotiations at that time.
“Now that the initial health emergency has passed, all PSNC Committee Members are focused on the financial emergency facing their businesses. PSNC, working with the other national community pharmacy bodies has put comprehensive data on pharmacies’ COVID-19 costs to HM Government and we are in discussion about how these should be covered, reconciling against the advance payments that have already been made to contractors. Even more critically we are also pushing for an uplift to the CPCF funding. This is alongside work arguing for increases in flu vaccination fees and negotiating the details of new CPCF services.
“None of these conversations are easy and all are complex and time-consuming. Although Ministers have heaped praise on the sector throughout the pandemic, many officials still question the value of pharmacies and this is what PSNC and others are working hard to convince them of. We are also increasingly working alongside our GP negotiating colleagues to share leverage where we can.
“I know that it is incredibly frustrating for contractors as they await the outcomes of these business-critical conversations, but do not mistake a failure to make fast agreements for a lack of activity: we have been and will continue to do all that is needed to battle for the best deals and for fair treatment of community pharmacies at every stage. If that means rejecting offer after offer from HM Government and doing all that we can to reach a satisfactory position on every single negotiating point, then that is what we will keep doing.”