Representing through national crises

PSNC made sure community pharmacy was provided for during no-deal Brexit planning and, later, the COVID-19 response.

Brexit planning

With Britain’s exit from the European Union imminent, PSNC used its Community Pharmacy Brexit Forum to keep lines of communication open between community pharmacy, the medicines supply chain and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Brexit dominated the political agenda and most of PSNC’s engagement with politicians about contingency arrangements. MPs were interested in the Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) legislation and wider issues relating to shortages, asking Parliamentary Questions on both subjects.

Some of these included references to PSNC’s concerns, and in one answer the Minister referred to our Brexit Forum.

Stephen Thomas, PSNC member and Deputy Superintendent Rowlands Pharmacy

‘PSNC’s Brexit Forum was quickly recognised as an invaluable way for Government to connect with community pharmacy, rapidly becoming one of their primary routes of communication with the sector. The forum group co-ordinated the discussion of a wide range of key issues, looking for solutions to protect the UK medicines supply chain and reduce the impact of Brexit on pharmacy workload.’

Early coronavirus response

Guidance for healthcare professionals on coronavirus – or COVID-19 – began in early 2020. PSNC quickly called on DHSC and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) to support pharmacies as they responded to the pandemic. The contractual requirement to complete a national clinical audit was waived and, at the end of March, PSNC secured £370 million in advance funding.

Efforts were diverted to the COVID-19 response, with PSNC providing updates via CEO video messages, a negotiations action list outlining our ambitions, and regular email updates.

We also launched a COVID-19 Rapid Action Team of LPC Chief Officers from every region of England, which became a vital communication channel between national and local organisations.


COVID-19 advance funding


price concession additional payments


pharmacy press PSNC mentions


pharmacy mentions in Parliament


other media PSNC mentions


Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs)

Medicines supply issues

Both Brexit and COVID-19 highlighted the fragility of medicine supply chains, and PSNC spent a significant amount of time briefing national media contacts on the root causes of medicine supply issues.

In April 2019 the continuing increase in the number of price concessions was highlighted across BBC radio stations, leading to articles in several national newspapers. We also helped tailor patient messaging for Asthma UK and the Epilepsy Society.

PSNC kept a close eye on the generics affected by global changes, utilising our contacts in the supply chain and DHSC to try to protect pharmacies against sudden price rises.

SSPs were first used in October to help manage Fluoxetine supply and, after criticism in Parliament, PSNC worked with the other national pharmacy organisations to address misconceptions, briefing MPs and Peers on what SSPs would be used for and the safeguards in place to protect patients.