PSNC’s CEO and Chair reflect back on the year of the five-year deal and consider how the pandemic, that was just beginning in March 2020, has changed the pharmacy world.
Chief Executive’s Comment
How different the world seemed a year ago, early in 2020, when we started to plan this annual report. The topic on everyone’s minds then was the five-year CPCF deal: what it meant for the sector, and looking ahead to the rollout of more services. I hope the following pages get across the important work that went into securing that deal and into engaging with you all in the months after the announcement.
But of course, like so many other things in 2020, our plans to publish this report as soon as our accounts were finalised over the summer, were derailed. For the events that were taking place on the other side of the world in January last year were to shape our lives – both at work and at home – in unimaginable ways.
When COVID-19 reached our shores community pharmacy teams, as much as anyone in the NHS, found themselves in the eye of the storm. Patients came to you in their droves – some anxious about the virus and wanting advice; others desperately trying to stock-up on essential medicines; and more still who were unable to get general practice appointments.
By the end of March 2020, the point at which this annual report officially ends, we could see what the year ahead held in store. You were battling to keep services going and to keep your teams safe against a backdrop of staff absences due to isolation, huge operational challenges associated with social distancing, financial shocks, and all the while without adequate PPE or any certainty about what the future held.
It was clear that at PSNC our day job was to support you through the pandemic, and that is what have tried to do, with good progress made on PPE funding, flexible working arrangements, emergency cashflow support, pharmacy key workers status, and a reduction in some of the usual administrative burdens placed on your businesses.
We have done all that we can to get you the help – both operational and financial – that you needed, and although we had some early wins, at the time of this report going to print we are still battling to make headway on funding to cover your COVID-19 costs. In the face of this uncertainty you have performed heroically – there simply is no more that you could have done to put patients first.
This report covers just some of our work during 2019/20 and early on in the pandemic, but I hope it gives a sense of the volume of critical work that we are doing and the headway that we are making on a wide range of issues.
We will continue to fight all these battles on your behalf, to get the warm words of politicians and NHS officials turned into tangible support, and to be as honest and open as we can with you about our progress.
Simon Dukes | PSNC Chief Executive Officer
When I joined PSNC in September 2019 I was struck by the huge potential community pharmacy had to contribute even more to community care, and how much I was looking forward to helping secure greater recognition for the vital role that you play.
I didn’t know then just how vital your role would become. Over the past year you have really underlined the value of what you do. I have been so proud to hear the stories of patient care that have come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, of pharmacies performing an ever-increasing array of clinical roles, and continuing to offer face-to-face high-quality care and advice, no matter the lack of financial support, the difficulties of securing proper protection for your teams or the movement of so many other health services online.
Without you, I’m sure that this pandemic would have brought the NHS to its knees. Many patients would quite simply have had nowhere to turn.
I also now have a much clearer understanding of the scale of the challenge facing you and all those working on your behalf at PSNC.
Here, as across the sector, we rely on a small but dedicated team working tirelessly to make the case for practical help and financial resources for all pharmacies.
Time and again they meet unreasonable objections and a failure to properly engage from Government and the NHS. In spite of this, they remain resolute, always on the lookout for pragmatic solutions, stronger evidence and more powerful arguments and alliances to try and get the right answers on your behalf.
PSNC is also an organisation that is not afraid to ask what they can do better, how can we improve? The findings of the Wright review, which were due to be published just as the period that this annual report covers ended, made clear that some positive changes should be made.
Changes for PSNC, changes for LPCs, and changes for the ways in which the entire sector come together to make their case. Overseeing transformational change, and putting in place the right governance, is a major challenge for any sector, and at time of writing a new group is only just beginning this work.
I hope that another year will yield significant progress. It is a real privilege to have been welcomed into the community pharmacy sector. You are the backbone of primary care, and critical to the health and wellbeing of so many people across the country.
I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you and seeing what the next year brings for you all.
Sue Killen | PSNC Chair