Major pharmacy organisations have said they want a reduction in the number of local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) in their response to an independent review being carried out on the role and structure of the PSNC and LPCs in England.
Documents seen by Independent Community Pharmacist setting out the positions of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIM) reveal they are keen on reducing the current number LPCs which currently stands at 69.
A third organisation, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), called for a streamlining of the LPC network “to better align with NHS structures,” insisting it does “not generally mirror the 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) in England.”
The review team, led by professor David Wright from the School of Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia, is expected to publish a report in early April.
In its position document, the CCA suggests that moving from 69 LPCs to 38 “regional branches,” managed by a central national body, would save £2.7m and remove any duplication of operating costs and workload relating to the national contractual framework.
“The current local support network contains significant and unjustifiable variation and duplication in terms of remit, cost and value,” the CCA said.
Regional branches, it said, would focus on promoting community pharmacy’s role with local health systems and local service commissioning while a single body model would support “the national co-ordination of locally delivered pilots of new service opportunities.”
It advocated “reducing the number of regional bodies so that each would represent around 300 contracts” and insisted national trade bodies had a duty to support contractors to deliver the terms of the community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF).
LPCs, the CCA added, needed to focus on “supporting the development of local services and engagement rather than supporting compliance with CPCF.”
Identifying what it claimed was considerable variation in contractor levies between LPCs and the way they are calculated, the CCA suggested there was “no evidence to indicate that higher levels of levy, whether it is paid per contract or as a percentage of NHS income, delivers a greater return for contractors.”
Contractors, it said, were paying around £7.9 million a year “to LPCs for an unknown level of locally derived funding.”
The CCA also suggested that not “every LPC or regional office will need to have its own individual provider company” and said “a single national company or a small number of supra-regional companies” would meet the network’s needs.
AIM said it would wait for the results of the review before finalising its position but released a series of recommendations, including a reduction in the number of LPCs from 69 to 45 to bring them in line with the number of STPs which it said was “a sensible way forward and will provide savings.”
It said: “There is a case to review the current functions of LPCs to ensure that there is consistency in the way they operate, reduce duplication, set robust KPIs and ensure contractors in the local areas receive the support required.”
AIM also called for “a portion of the savings” to go towards forming “regional forums” that would “provide robust local representation and innovation, support for contractors, primary care network leads and PCN integration.”
The NPA said that although it favoured a streamlining of the LPC network, it warned “any reduction in the number of LPCs should not equate to a reduction in local capacity to support the general body of pharmacy contractors.”
It added: “On the contrary, any monies released from structural efficiencies should be reinvested to support local activity. This includes investing in a programme of support for the newly selected 1,259 pharmacy primary care network leads.”
The NPA also said consideration should be given to the creation of regional hubs that would provide “functional support for a streamlined network of LPCs” and a national community pharmacy service development unit that would “co-ordinate the development of ideas bubbling up from LPCs via regional hubs.”
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