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New contributing editor joins ICP

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New contributing editor joins ICP

New ICP recruit Patrick Grice, former editor of C+D, shares his thoughts on the way ahead for community pharmacy

From funding cuts to workload pressures, there’s a lot of doom and gloom around. Do you have an optimistic view for 2018?

I don’t think things are going to get any worse for pharmacy contractors in England in 2018, but I am not optimistic that there will be any let up in the pressure on businesses. The DH’s goal is still to reduce the number of pharmacies.

PSNC seems at last to have resumed a sensible dialogue with the DHSC, which is good news.

In Scotland, where there is a much more coherent policy for community pharmacy, things look much better.

There are new faces appearing, or due to appear, in a number of pharmacy organisations too – Numark, PSNC, NPA, Boots and others – which should bring new ideas and energy.

How do you see the role of the independent changing in the next 2-3 years?

I can’t see any dramatic change coming down the line: it will be evolution rather than revolution.

There will be a steady growth in the use of IT to manage the business and deliver services. There is quite a lot of scope for development here. It’s about time we saw the emergence of patient- focused dispensary management systems, for example.

When the NHS restricts the prescribing of a swathe of OTC products (as it surely will when the current consultation closes) this area of business should prosper.

I suspect more independents will explore provision of non-NHS health services and alternative revenue streams, since the dangers of over-reliance on NHS dispensing revenue has been all too apparent over in the past two years.

What’s your ideal funding model for community pharmacy?

Better minds than mine have been wrestling with this for years.
It has to be a funding model that CCGs and local authorities are prepared to buy in to. In theory the current contract with Essential, Enhanced and Advanced services is a good model but FHSAs, CCGs (and whatever they will be next) and local authorities never had any incentives to work properly with the pharmacy sector.

Community pharmacy has always stood outside the NHS to a degree. Any funding model that integrates and aligns pharmacy, and the services it can offer, with NHS requirements is the way to go. Easier said than done, though!

Having worked in pharmacy journalism for quite a while, what’s the biggest story you’ve covered?

Probably the delivery of the ‘new contract’ by PSNC in 2005. Community pharmacy had been going nowhere for years and there was huge interest in offering more than just a dispensing service.
The new contract, with the introduction of MURs, offered that opportunity. It hasn’t quite worked out like that, but back in 2005 the future was bright.

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