North East London local pharmaceutical committee (NEL LPC) secretary Hemant Patel has said £3 million a year will need to be found for all the LPCs across England if they are to provide pharmacists to participate in primary care networks (PCNs) and attend meetings.
Patel warned that LPCs must be funded so community pharmacists can take part in the government's biggest reforms to general practice in 15 years, with a range of health professionals and local providers across primary care, social care and the voluntary sector expected to work together to take the pressure off GPs.
PCNs will go live on July 1 although uncertainty persists over whether community pharmacies will be funded to take part and Patel urged the PSNC to "make representations on our behalf” so pharmacists can receive funding.
“There could be 20 to 40 PCNs in London. That means our pharmacists are going to need at least 10 days to attend meetings. That will be very difficult for some pharmacists unless they can get in an experienced pharmacist (to cover),” Patel told ICP.
“It's all very well buying the wedding suit and shoes but what about paying for the wedding?”
Patel added: “There could be 1,000 PCNs that would need monthly attendance, so you have to do the maths. Twelve thousand (PCN visits) times £250 equals £3,000,000 that would need to be found from somewhere,” he said.
“Whilst the cost is important, the opportunity to contribute to local commissioning cannot be overestimated.”
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes told ICP that pharmacy's negotiating body has spoken to NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care about the costs of pharmacies engaging with PCNs.
“The challenge of engaging with Primary Care Networks cannot be underestimated and it will need everyone in community pharmacy to work together and to play their part - no single organisation working in isolation will be able to ensure the success of this nationwide work,” he said.
“At the recent PSNC-hosted LPC conference we talked with LPCs about how they might be able to facilitate engagement with PCNs at a local level. In some cases LPCs will have large numbers of PCNs to work with.
"PSNC is also working with the other national pharmacy organisations to co-ordinate plans to support both LPCs and contractors in their work on this.
“This includes the part-time appointment of Michael Lennox (chief officer of Community Pharmacy Somerset) by both PSNC and the NPA to help co-ordinate some of this work. Alongside this we are working with NHS England as they lead the development of PCNs. For instance, many LPCs have attended the recent wave of NHS England regional PCN events.
“PSNC has highlighted to NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care the significant amount of work that will be required for pharmacies to engage with PCNs and the costs associated with that.
“We will continue to work closely with both the national pharmacy organisations and the LPCs to help community pharmacists and their teams to make the most of the opportunities that PCNs present.”