PSNC has a clear focus on its ongoing work to improve the funding and contractual arrangements for contractors. With the CPCF arrangements for 2022/23 and 2023/24 very recently announced, PSNC has a clear focus on its ongoing work to improve the funding and contractual arrangements for contractors in the short, medium and long-term.
7.1 | Ongoing impact of COVID-19
As the 2021/22 financial year came to end, negotiations on Year 4 of the five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF)agreement were just underway. These arrangements have now been settled, and while the benefits negotiated are not enough on their own to deliver what contractors need going into a difficult winter, they provide a platform for PSNC to build relationships with the new Government and to seek further support for the sector.
Alongside urgent work to seek more help for contractors in the short-term, including pressing Government to commission a fully funded Pharmacy First service, PSNC is also already looking to what changes the future might hold for contractors once the current CPCF runs its course.
To support future developments, the Transforming Pharmacy Representation (TAPR) programme is now underway. This sets out all the work that we will undertake to implement the proposals put forward for PSNC by the Pharmacy Representation Review Steering Group (RSG). It is a distinct programme being resourced from PSNC’s reserves, but some of the workstreams are critical to the success of negotiations both now and in the future.
TAPR is still in its infancy, but as it progresses in the coming months it will answer questions about how PSNC’s representative function will be strengthened. Contractors can monitor how we are progressing with the programme on the PSNC website and the first of a series of regular progress updates was published in September 2022. The TAPR programme will not take away all the external challenges that contractors face, but we hope it will be the start of an enhanced, more strategic, collaborative and ultimately effective process of negotiating at both local and national level.
Two TAPR workstreams focusing on ‘Vision and Strategy’, and ‘Influencing and Negotiation’ will underpin the work to influence Government. These workstreams are looking at the future of community pharmacy and how best to persuade policymakers to implement a shared vision. The objective is to put the sector in a stronger position going into future CPCF negotiations.
In the short-term, PSNC’s objective is to seek additional resources and relief for the current funding crisis. We are seizing the opportunity to influence the new Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Health and other Ministers, portraying community pharmacy as part of the solution for NHS access, but only if Government resolves the current frustrations of capacity and funding constraints.
The message is that pharmacies are willing and able to help meet Government objectives, such as Pharmacy First, if, and only if, they are properly funded. A new PSNC influencing strategy will also engage with wider stakeholders including Parliamentarians and other groups who can influence decision-makers, and we will be working with LPCs, other bodies and contractors on this. PSNC will also be seeking measures to relieve the financial pressures and capacity constraints faced by contractors. These could include:
- Regulatory easing to enable relaxation on opening hours
- Business concessions, such as relief on business rates and caps on utility bills
- Help with workforce pressures and costs
Medium term, PSNC is exploring ways to support contractors. We will be pursing the promised efficiency reforms that have been discussed with Government. These include resolution of the supervision issue and skill mix, and appropriate use of original packs in dispensing.
An economic review to clearly establish the real costs and benefits of the services that pharmacies deliver is planned – as agreed in the latest CPCF negotiations – to support service developments and help make the case for proper funding. PSNC also proposes to investigate alternative models for the Drug Tariff and to explore options for developing models for local commissioning.
Our long-term objective is a complete re-think of the contractual framework and how community pharmacy operates as part of primary care. This will frame community pharmacy as a solution for two key policy challenges – access to NHS services and managing the nation’s long-term health. It will require a fundamental re-think of how community pharmacy is funded and will set out how contractors can plan for future sustainability. This is an ambitious approach, but one which PSNC hopes the sector can get behind.
Community pharmacy has a very compelling story to tell and with a unified voice, combined with a new vision and strategy for the sector, it should be possible to make much headway.