It is very disappointing to see that the Government and the NHS have not listened to proposals from Pharmacy Voice, PSNC and RPS on a way forward for community pharmacy that is more constructive for the public, the health system and the sector.
The Government has proposed a reduction in funding from December 2016 – March 2017 by 12% and a further 7.4% reduction in 2017/18. Understandably, PSNC have rejected the proposals. However, until we see more detail on the way these will be implemented it is very difficult to analyse how these might bite and who will be most affected.
The Government has also issued proposals for an NHS emergency medicines supply scheme (we already have one!?) and an improved refer to pharmacy scheme from NHS 111 for common conditions. This seems to require the patient to pay for their own treatment. Whilst this has the potential to develop the self care OTC market in pharmacy, we would question whether it will really change public behaviours and move them away from GPs and A&E where capacity cannot meet demand and it costs the NHS more. It is also unclear what evidence underpins this approach.
There are significant benefits in leveraging the access to clinical skills and interventions in community pharmacies to deliver against some of the care and quality, financial and health inequality challenges that the NHS faces; these proposals from Government re unlikely to achieve that and may actually reduce the opportunity.
So what can you do?
In these very challenging and uncertain times it is important that pharmacy contractors focus on what they can control right now and minimise the impact:
1. Redefine your purpose – what you love doing, what you are good at, what there is a need for and what is more likely to result in generating new profitable income
2. Engage and settle your team – developed and motivated workforce will be more productive
3. Now is the time to invest in your people – develop them as Health Champions so that you have the right people doing the right things at the right time
4. Hold up a mirror to yourself and your business; build on your strengths and minimise your weaknesses
5. Maximise all current contractual opportunities – focus first on delivering quality MURs, NMS, flu vaccinations and any locally commissioned services
6. Look at your OTC business and set short, small growth targets and engage your team in achieving these, rewarding with team incentives
7. Take a critical look at your community (your market) and consider the health and wellbeing opportunities to grow further
8. Make a plan and engage your team in the development and implementation of that plan
9. Consider the Healthy Living Pharmacy concept – this is a business development model that will differentiate your pharmacy
10. Create an ethos that delivers a high quality customer experience.