Pharmacy Voice urges full dialogue on Community Pharmacy reforms

Pharmacy Voice has welcomed the Government’s decision to restart negotiations with the PSNC following the publication of the Community Pharmacy Forward View but has emphasised the risk in setting unrealistic deadlines for decisions that could adversely affect the community pharmacy sector, or provide contractors with little time to adapt.

Pharmacy Voice, alongside other sector organisations, received a letter from the Department of Health outlining its plans to revisit the proposals, and its reasoning for the delay, which included the change of Minister, as well as the need to consider other information such as the report commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers on ‘The value of community pharmacy’ and Pharmacy Voice’s ‘Community Pharmacy Forward View’, published jointly with PSNC and supported by the RPS’s English Pharmacy Board.

However, Pharmacy Voice is concerned by the short timescales the Government has set aside for further negotiation,  with a decision on funding expected in mid-October giving effect to changes from December.

Rob Darracott, Chief Executive of Pharmacy Voice, remarked:

“We have been asking for the Department to revisit their initial proposals for months now. This letter confirms that they are listening and that they recognise that their original ideas fell well short of the mark.

“I am pleased that the campaign, alongside the Forward View and PWC report, has created a pause for reflection but, like others in the sector, am concerned about the signals sent by the  short time the Government has allowed itself to complete this second round of negotiations. If they are serious about the timetable in the letter, contractors could receive very little notice of contractual changes or new obligations, despite reassurances made by the previous Minister to Parliament that they would be given the time needed to prepare.

“The Forward View, in particular, raises a number of detailed opportunities that the Department of Health and NHS England should consider fully if they expect any final decision to have credibility in the sector. We think they should be taking the time to put community pharmacy on a sustainable footing, both for the long-term and as part of an integrated health and care system.”