North East London Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) secretary Hemant Patel has warned the total number of prescriptions will fall by 40% in the next six years.
In what was a sobering warning to any pharmacists who believe prescription volume will sustain their businesses, Patel (pictured) told Sigma’s UK conference that local engagement and services held the key to community pharmacies’ fate.
“There’s going to be a huge drive toward de-prescribing. The total number of prescriptions has started to fall by 5%. The total number of prescriptions, my prediction is that it will drop by 40% by 2025,” he said.
“If your prescription business went down by 40%, what would you do? Start to think about that.”
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes told the conference that he was pushing “strongly” for a multi-year deal but warned negotiations faced “some significant challenges.”
“I am pushing strongly for a multi-year deal for us because only if we get a multi-year deal will we get any chance of you being able to make investment decisions based on some certainty rather than uncertainty and ambiguity that we face currently,” he said.
“But there are some significant challenges in our negotiations. We live and work effectively in a monopsony. There is only one principle buyer and NHS England and we had a breakdown in the relationships with that principle buyer over the years.
“We don’t have a unified voice. We have a number of different pharmacy groups and that relationship we have together is absolutely vital but we are nonetheless a number of voices as opposed to one.
“PSNC represent everyone in the sector. We represent all independents, multiples, independent multiples, online pharmacies and DSPs (distance-selling pharmacies) and that is enormously important when it comes to putting across our collective and joint views to government.”
Dukes added: “We must accept that from an NHS England perspective, there is no appetite to challenge the role of GPs are being at the core of primary care. We have to accept that. We have to work with it.”
He also said pharmacists needed to have a greater understanding of primary care networks.
“We need to have a greater understanding of how primary care networks will work and the environment. The NHS needs to have a great understanding of how we operate too,” he said.
“Often, there is a lack of understanding that we are 11,600 different businesses, buying, selling, employing, competing and that isn’t always understood.
“We need to ensure our local engagement is better than it has been before.
“We need to support LPCs wider than we do currently and we’re already making an impact on that. We’ve got a name team within LPC support providing negotiation support because clearly a lot of this will be a local, primary care network-focused service delivery.”