National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette has said his organisation will not “stand still” and wait for the PSNC’s funding talks with the government to conclude before helping its members make progress with local healthcare structures.
The start of the PSNC’s negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England yesterday on the community pharmacy contractual framework for 2019-20 and beyond ended months of speculation about when the talks would begin.
Lyonette (pictured) described the start of the negotiations as “a significant moment in the long history of community pharmacy” but insisted the NPA’s focus would not be fixed solely on the talks but on its members and their attempt to establish themselves on primary care networks.
“The NPA, PSNC and indeed all the national pharmacy bodies have been working hard to build trust with officials and elected politicians, providing a solid platform for the negotiations,” he said.
“This is a significant moment in the long history of community pharmacy and we hope all parties to the negotiation will be ambitious about the future.
“Community pharmacies need to be recognised as the front door to health - an indispensable component of the urgent care pathway, vibrant health and wellbeing hubs and a mainstay of support for people with long-term medical conditions.
“The current financial pressures are a powerful disincentive to pharmacy owners to invest in NHS services. The negotiations provide an opportunity to change that, so pharmacies can step up to meet the challenges laid out in the NHS long-term plan.
“A successful outcome would include a clear direction on service development and a multi-year settlement, giving pharmacy owners the confidence to modernise and invest in patient services.”
Lyonette added: “We do not need to stand still until the outcome of the negotiations is known. At a local level, there is an urgent need to engage with the emerging NHS commissioning infrastructure, so the NPA is pressing ahead with a programme of support for independent representatives on LPCs (local pharmaceutical committees).
“We are also developing a digital strategy to help independent pharmacies become more efficient and better connected, whatever lies ahead.
“The fact that the start of negotiations has been publicly announced is a first for pharmacy in England in recent times. This is perhaps a sign of a maturing relationship between the sector and its biggest paymaster, the NHS.”