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PSNC has failed to produce a business plan, says Kent LPC chair


PSNC has failed to produce a business plan, says Kent LPC chair

By Neil Trainis

Exclusive: Kent local pharmaceutical committee chair Amish Patel has accused the PSNC of failing to produce a business plan outlining how it intends to spend increased contributions that LPCs will make from the levy year beginning April 2024.

In an exclusive interview with Independent Community Pharmacist, Mr Patel said he was concerned by what he described as “a lack of detail” from pharmacy’s negotiator over how it will use the additional money.

The contributions LPCs make to PSNC will rise by an additional £1.5m a year by April 2024, something the Review Steering Group said would “achieve a better distribution of the £11.3m per annum paid into contractor representation and support".

Mr Patel said the RSG’s recommendations in general would not bring “massive change” as far as his LPC is concerned but insisted he feared contractors would suffer because they would have to pay more to help their LPC meet those increased contributions. He said he hoped the LPC conference on September 22 would clear the issue up.  

“Reading the recommendations and the number of changes that are going to come out, I don’t think we’re going to see massive change in our LPC," he said.

"But at the same time, I do see a lack of detail from what the PSNC need to do; asking for more money but no business plan on how they’re going to spend that money. That’s a big thing that really bothers me. There’s definitely a lack of detail from PSNC.

“We’ve got to pay in this money but no detail of what it’s being spent on and how it’s going to be spent and why and what. At the end of the day, the LPCs are going to take that money from contractors, so is it going to weaken the LPC? No. Is it going to weaken contractors? Yes, without a doubt.

“Contractors will have to pay in more. Where’s that money coming from in the first place? We’ve got no guarantee of extra funding, yet now we’ve got a further extra added cost to my spreadsheet.”

Insisting “money doesn’t always fix problems,” Mr Patel questioned where the money LPCs give PSNC will go. “It is going to go on salaries for the same people? That’s not going to achieve a better outcome if it’s the same people working [at PSNC] at the end of the day. Is it going to go to outside consultants?” he asked.

“If so, fine, one step might be in the right direction but what does that say about the people we are paying in the PSNC?”

Patel also said that a move to “an income-based levy” would be “welcome as it is more in keeping with the current system of levy collection".

Responding to these comments, PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison said “there has never been any suggestion to charge contractors more money” and insisted increased LPC contributions will be spent on strengthening its “negotiating capacity, building a stronger evidence base” and improving its “governance and dialogue on behalf of contractors".

“Proposals to change the distribution of contractors’ levies, with more being directed to support the higher value national negotiations, were made by the Review Steering Group and supported by an overwhelming majority of community pharmacy contractors in a national vote over the summer,” said Ms Morrison, who pointed to its Transforming Pharmacy Representation Programme as evidence of its determination to deliver the RSG's recommendations. 

PSNC has started using reserves to improve 

Insisting the PSNC’s “resources are extremely constrained given the job it is trying to do,” she said the negotiator has already started using its reserves to improve its negotiating capacity, governance, communication and negotiating abilities.

“Over the next six months contractors will see us developing a collaborative vision and strategy for community pharmacy,” she said.

“[That includes] work on our influencing and engagement strategies, working to strengthen our negotiating strategy and to enhance the data and evidence we can commission to support our case and strengthening our support for LPCs.

“None of these are easy or inexpensive - for instance, a large-scale cost of service inquiry would cost at least £500,000 - so PSNC members are likely to continue to face difficult decisions prioritising how resources are best spent.”

Ms Morrison said she did not expect “most” LPCs would have to increase contractors’ levies and added: “LPCs are being asked to drive efficiencies to rebalance the funding of local and national bodies by just 13 per cent in line with the lower estimate recommended by the independent Wright Review and PSNC is supporting them to do this.”

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