PSNC captured a range of useful data from contractors during 2021/22. This data, building on that collected in previous years, forms the backbone of the evidence we used to make the case for community pharmacy both through the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) negotiations and more widely. Thank you to all contractors who took part in our surveys and audits.
5.1 | Gathering operational data
Workload and financial pressures on community pharmacies increased significantly over the course of the year. PSNC quickly began compiling as much information as possible to help build up evidence of the scale of these pressures and make the case that community pharmacies were at breaking point and needed urgent support. Ahead of a joint review of the first two years of the five-year CPCF, we gathered extensive data. PSNC’s submission included our estimates of the efficiencies being made in the sector; analysis of service levels and capacity in pharmacies; data on walk-ins and pharmacy closures; analysis of current cost pressures (including labour costs) and profitability; and an assessment of the value that pharmacies offer for the NHS. Some of this was later used to develop briefing materials for use by PSNC, LPCs and contractors in discussions with advocates such as MPs.
5.2 | Pharmacy Pressures Survey
In early 2022, PSNC sought to quantify the impact of the pressures on pharmacy businesses, teams and patients through the Pharmacy Pressures Survey. More than 400 contractors and Head Office representatives, between them representing more than 5,000 pharmacy premises, and over 1,000 pharmacy team members completed the survey. More than 90% of pharmacies said patients were being negatively affected by increased pressure on the sector. Rising costs and staff shortages have led to unplanned temporary closures of pharmacies, reduced access to medication and advice, and made less time available for pharmacy teams to provide health advice to the public. More than two thirds of pharmacies were forced to reduce the services they offer to patients, and 46% had to stop provision of non-funded services altogether.
5.3 | Medicines supply data
To inform PSNC’s work on price concessions each month, we monitor the costs of generic medicines to independent pharmacies by gathering a considerable number of contractor and system-generated reports. We look at monthly price lists and price change notifications shared by various suppliers. PSNC also gathers contractor reports of any medicine supply disruptions and shortages which are then escalated to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for further investigation. Supply issues due to medicine quota allocations from suppliers is another area where PSNC supported contractors. Throughout 2021/22, the monitoring of funding delivery and work to improve the margin survey methodology to ensure the accurate measurement of retained margin carried on in the background, and some of the proposed drug reimbursement reforms aim to help to improve fair access to retained margin for community pharmacies. The NHS Business Servies Authority (NHSBSA) was held to account on payment accuracy by the ongoing work of the Pricing Audit Team.
5.4 | Verifying pharmacy’s value
PSNC once again conducted a temperature check on how people are continuing to rely on community pharmacies. We found that community pharmacies were providing 65 million informal healthcare consultations and saving 32.2 million GP appointments every year. The audit also enabled PSNC to assess, for the first time, the severity of the conditions with which patients were presenting in community pharmacies, and found that community pharmacists identify 2.5 million patients a year needing urgent assessment. The PSNC team used information from NHS England to monitor uptake and provision of services, sharing relevant data with LPCs to inform their work in supporting national service implementation and demonstrating all the work community pharmacies are doing.