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Can community pharmacists write business cases for PCNs?

National Pharmacy Association (NPA) board member Reena Barai has questioned whether community pharmacists can produce compelling business cases as they try to integrate into primary care networks (PCNs) across England.

In an interview with Independent Community Pharmacist (ICP), Ms Barai (pictured), who was appointed community pharmacy lead for Cheam and South Sutton PCN in January, warned that community pharmacists will need to learn new skills if they are to make an impact with PCNs. 

Those include writing business cases, taking on leadership roles and collaborating, not just with GPs but other pharmacy contractors in the same locality who may have been competitors down the years.

“I think there’s a massive learning need for those primary care network roles in leadership, understanding how to inspire a shared purpose with your fellow contractors,” she said.

“Because some of them may be your competitors and you have to rise above your competition with that contractor and work collaboratively. It’s not easy for everyone to do.”

Community pharmacists and their teams looking to get involved in PCNs will need to put their case across persuasively by setting out how they can play an important role in particular work streams. 

Ms Barai questioned whether pharmacists were able to produce business cases and asked if local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) will help them do so moving forward. 

“It’s been a year since PCNs have been in place. We’ve been asked to engage over this year and in the last six months,” she said.

“I’m thinking we’ll have to make business cases that we’ll have to take somewhere. Are community pharmacists au fait with writing business cases? Are we able to do those sort of things or is that where the LPC steps in and helps us?”

She also said that “some centralised funding and training for PCN leads would be really useful” after the PSNC announced on the day it unveiled the five-year community pharmacy contractual framework last year that it would secure a PCN fund to support training and increased capacity for pharmacists to get involved.

Community pharmacy teams are being encouraged to get involved with PCNs through the pharmacy quality scheme although Ms Barai said that is "not going to cover much."

“(A PCN fund) hasn’t materialised as yet but it’s gone as part of the quality payment scheme, so if you’re a PCN lead you get more points. It’s not going to cover much to be honest,” she said.

“I can go out and do what I feel I need to learn but I think we should all be doing it together so that when we turn up to our PCN meetings, we’re speaking the same language otherwise you’re going to get a bit of a postcode lottery where one PCN is great and engages a pharmacy and the other doesn’t and I’m worried about that.

“So I think some centralised funding and training for PCN leads would be really useful. I don’t know if the PSNC have come up short. We just don’t know. There is some funding but we just don’t know what it’s going towards.”




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