PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes has revealed the start of its community pharmacy funding negotiations with the government have been delayed but could begin in the next couple of months as ministers plough on trying to find a solution to Brexit.
Insisting the PSNC’s aim is to agree a multi-year settlement for contractors despite past difficulties in securing more than a one-year deal, Dukes (pictured) told ICP that protracted Brexit talks had prevented pharmacy negotiations from starting. Indeed, the government has not even indicated when those talks will begin.
“No (contractual negotiations) haven’t (started). I suppose that’s unsurprising given the situation we find ourselves in. The Department of Health and Social Care would agree that just the sheer weight of Brexit-related stuff they’re dealing with has impacted on their ability to do other things,” Dukes said.
“Equally, the GP contract should’ve been announced months before actually and they too have been affected by that.”
When asked when the PSNC hoped to hear something from the government as it strives to secure a contract based on services rather than dispensing, he said: “As soon as possible. No, (we haven’t been given any indication as to when talks will start) although I’d like to think, in the next couple of months, we will start talks.”
GPs in England were last week given a new five-year contract which will see fresh investment ploughed into developing primary care networks containing a range of healthcare professionals including pharmacists working together to alleviate the pressure on general practice.
When asked what he hoped to achieve from negotiations, Dukes said: “I think it’s wrong to compare GPs and community pharmacists. They are two very separate professions clearly, and businesses, but the thing I picked up on from the moment I arrived in this job, the absolute core to having a change process in the sector is having a longer than this one-year (settlement).
“The one thing I picked up one and pushed out there was if you can do it for GPs then why can’t you do it for community pharmacy?”
The government has not been in the habit of giving community pharmacy two, three or longer-year settlements, usually offering one-year deals. When Dukes was asked what made him think the government will give community pharmacy a multi-year settlement now, he said: “Well, we can only ask can’t we? I think there’s a great precedent there. I’m struggling to think of reasons why we shouldn’t have that.
“If we are as central to the delivery of that vision as has been said and stated in some of the press releases that went out from NHS England, then we can at least ask the question and request a similar length of time, certainly a multi-year settlement, to give us a sense of what the funding envelope looks like for our sector.
“If we are asking contractors, independents and multiples, to make quite significant and serious investment decisions in the future, they need to have some sense of what that envelope looks like.
“If government is genuine about wanting to make the changes they have, then give us a sense of what that envelope looks like.”
Title page picture (MicroStockHub - iStock)