At the end of the period covered by this annual report, negotiations on Year 3 of the five-year CPCF had just begun and PSNC remained focused on resolving COVID-19 costs and on continuing to look for pandemic service opportunities for pharmacies. All of those, as well as an Annual Review of the CPCF and then Year 4 negotiations are critical for 21/22.
071 | Ongoing impact of COVID-19
At the end of March 2021, a new Advanced Service – the NHS community pharmacy COVID-19 lateral flow device distribution service (known as ‘Pharmacy Collect’) – was launched. Once again, pharmacies jumped at the chance to support the wider national effort with more than 90% starting to offer it in the first month. Continuing this service, as well as looking at other services and in particular arguing for a bigger role in COVID vaccinations will be an important job for PSNC in 2021/22.
The resolution of COVID costs is also an ongoing critical issue. At time of publication PSNC had accepted a revised, and much improved, offer on reimbursing contractors’ COVID costs and many thousands of contractors had submitted claims for their costs. The total claimed for was significantly higher than the £120 million initially offered to the sector. Discussions were held about this and about the advance payment loan repayments that contractors will need to make, with PSNC’s objectives being to ensure all contractors received a fair payment to cover their costs and to smooth cashflow as much as possible.
‘This will be a year of exciting progress for pharmacies, at least as far as services go. The long-awaited extension of the New Medicine Service (NMS), with further pilots to follow, brings this valuable service to whole new cohorts of patients. The agreement for us to give catch-up support to those who have missed out on the NMS over the past year should also be taken as a huge vote of confidence. And the new Hypertension Case-Finding and Smoking Cessation Advanced Services finally start to bring to life the vision for pharmacy services that we have been advocating for many years.’Clare kerr, Head of Healthcare Policy and Strategy at McKesson UK and PSNC Negotiating Team Member, AUGUST 2021
072 | CPCF for 21/22 and beyond
Formal negotiations on the arrangements for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) in 2021/22 (‘Year 3’) began in April 2021, and after intense negotiations, plans were announced to contractors in August. The arrangements for Year 3 will see a number of service extensions and new services launching, and the priority for PSNC, as it was through the negotiations, will be to equip contractors with the information and support they need to provide this wider range of services.
Although PSNC fought hard in the negotiations to reduce the burden on contractors – with key wins on the Pharmacy Quality Scheme, and the extension of the Transitional Payments – there is no doubt that for contractors there is another challenging year ahead. Ongoing operational cost and cashflow pressures will affect many businesses, and pharmacies will undoubtedly continue to feel the impact of COVID-19.
Contractors will also need to plan and roll out a range of new services, with this coming on top of the Hepatitis C Testing Service, the NHS Discharge Medicines Service (DMS) and all the pandemic services rolled out in the past 12 months.
PSNC will be fighting for recognition and support in all of these areas, with an initial focus point being the CPCF annual review process, which will allow us and the NHS and Government to look at progress to date on the five-year deal, and pressure points. The outputs of this process, in which there will undoubtedly be disagreement between PSNC and the other side, will set the tone for negotiations for the next year of the CPCF (‘Year 4’) which we expect to begin before Christmas 2021.
073 | Integrated care systems
Towards the end of 2020/21, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced new plans for health and care systems designed to bring services closer together, support the delivery of high-quality care and help tackle health inequalities. Whilst the negotiation of the CPCF will continue to be undertaken at a national level, new Integrated Care Systems will have responsibility for the local commissioning of primary care services, including pharmaceutical services – PSNC will be working closely with LPCs and others across primary care to ensure pharmacy’s voice is heard by these new systems.
074 | Improving contractor services
The PSNC-initiated independent review of the support and representation offered to contractors by PSNC and the LPCs reported in July 2020. This was the first such review ever to be carried out. The report found many opportunities for improvements, including to governance, efficiencies and joint-working, and it suggested some ways in which pharmacy could strengthen its external voice and work to improve negotiating outcomes.
Following discussions between PSNC and the LPCs, a Review Steering Group (RSG) was established to take forward the findings of the review. The RSG began this work at the start of 2021, and has since set out a workplan and timeline, as well as engaging with the sector on what future and national contractor representatives should do. PSNC is looking forward to seeing the outcomes of its work and to playing its part in implementing changes that should see all contractors receiving better and more consistent services and representation in return for their levies.