PSNC’s Chair and CEO reflect on the past year, and how things are shaping up for the next.
1.1 | Chair’s comment
The past couple of years have not been easy for anyone. The COVID pandemic has morphed into a cost-of-living crisis precipitated by an equally unexpected European conflict. As a result, community pharmacies, like so many other sectors, have been facing an unrelenting stream of financial and operational challenges. But unlike some other sectors, the demand for the advice and services you offer has remained unrelenting throughout. Yet through it all, you have continued to deliver what the NHS has asked of you and more, yet again demonstrating how important pharmacies are to the healthcare system and to our communities. I would like to think that the Government is beginning to understand what community pharmacy can bring to the table, and hope we will be able to turn that into something more tangible in the future.
Over the last year there have been a number of changes at PSNC. Simon Dukes resigned as our CEO last summer. We are grateful to Simon for all that he achieved for community pharmacy over his three years leading the PSNC team. In March we were delighted to welcome Janet Morrison to PSNC as our new CEO. She joined at a challenging time, but her impressive career history shows us that she has the skills to influence and lead effectively on behalf of community pharmacy contractors.
The work of the Pharmacy Review Steering Group (RSG) also concluded earlier this year and its recommendations for improving representation and support for community pharmacy were overwhelmingly supported by pharmacy contractors.
PSNC is committed to working with LPCs to take forward these recommendations with the aim of improving our negotiating capacity, strengthening the case we can make on behalf of contractors, enhancing our governance and transparency, and enabling us to work more closely with the LPCs to create a united voice for community pharmacy.
As well as dealing with current pressures, PSNC is increasingly focused on what happens after the end of the current five-year deal. It is vital that community pharmacy representatives are all working towards the same goals, and the RSG’s proposals are a positive step towards making that happen more effectively.
Strengthening our governance, improving collaboration, aligning our ambitions with those of the NHS and the communities we serve, and ensuring contractors get the best value possible from their levy, are principles that would be difficult for anyone to argue against. These aims encapsulate PSNC’s ambitions for the coming year.
Sue Kilen | PSNC Chair
1.2 | Chief Executive’s Comment
It’s a funny thing to be asked to contribute to an annual report about a year in which you were, for the most part, not here. I took up the helm at PSNC in March 2022, just as we were launching into negotiations on the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF), whilst the country emerged from the winter Omicron wave. But straightaway I got a good flavour for what was going on in the sector, and what PSNC had been doing about it, as the results of both the Pharmacy Advice Audit and the Pressures Survey landed on my desk, along with PSNC’s funding and walk-in service bids. The audit and survey reports painted contrasting pictures – one of the phenomenal ways in which pharmacies help millions of people every year, despite not being properly funded to do so; but the second of the intolerable strain this was putting on pharmacy teams, owners and businesses. I know that this has not gone away.
PSNC’s funding and walk-in bids were persuasive – they were backed with considerable evidence gathered from across the sector; supported by the analysis of our funding team; and set out how investment in pharmacies would lead to better outcomes for patients and value for the NHS and Government. Yet as we now know, they were not successful, as Government stood firm in their refusal to move away from the five-year deal, despite all our evidence that circumstances had changed beyond what was imaginable when PSNC first agreed it.
So where does this leave us as we look to the second half of this financial year? For pharmacy owners I know the prospect of winter is bleak, but helping you with this is our challenge, and one which we will work tirelessly to solve. Whilst signing off the CPCF arrangements, the Committee agreed we now needed to focus sharply on seeking further support for contractors: to help financially, to ease capacity constraints, and to put pressure on Government to resolve things like Price Concessions and the workforce crisis that is damaging your businesses in so many ways.
And that is exactly what we will be doing going forward – working to influence the new Government for the benefit of contractors in the short, medium and long-term. This includes immediate tactical work to ramp up our influencing and strengthen our evidence base; medium-term work such as developing a new vision and strategy for community pharmacy; and longer-term work to enhance our governance and create stronger local and national negotiators though the Transforming Pharmacy Representation (TAPR) programme.
I hope this report gives you a flavour of some of the work, much of it unseen, which goes on here. PSNC has a small but very expert team all of whom work closely with the contractors on the PSNC Committee for the benefit of all community pharmacy contractors. Over the next year we hope to have better news to report to you, and I personally look forward to meeting more of you and to working more collaboratively and openly with all of you as we progress our wider TAPR work.
Janet Morrison OBE | PSNC Chief Executive Officer