When PSNC, now Community Pharmacy England (CPE), set out its transformation plan, it included two key actions critical for the future of community pharmacy:
- a single vision and plan for the future
- a single voice for the sector
We have yet to see either, albeit the Kings Fund and Nuffield Trust who were commissioned to write the former have now published a summary of themes and proposals for feedback. Evolution continues to underpin the theme, but the sector cannot wait another 12-24 months; the pace of change in the contractual framework and pharmacy practice must accelerate and funding to match it.
Unsure why the sector could not write its own vision and plan, Pharmacy Voice did so back in 2016 with its collaborative Forward View blueprint. Most of that is reflected in the latest vision so have we just lost 7 years of progress?
Is it the current lack of a single voice which is holding the sector back?
The NPA has produced its prospectus for pharmacy services: Making Changes Meeting Needs and CCA have launched their vision for the future of community pharmacy. All credible thinking, but where is the joint vision across the whole sector that the NHS want to hear? Importantly, the prospectus does highlight the need for a clear vision and unified leadership. We frequently see individual, sometimes divergent, and even divisive statements from AIM, CCA, CPE and NPA, but no single vision, strategy or plan.
The recent announcement of £645 million going into the contract sum has to be welcomed, but is well short of the £1 billion black hole in the funding just to bring it back to a level before the 5-Year deal. Will the fix come too late for some who are currently operating at a loss? Some would argue that this more down to the current unfair reimbursement scheme as opposed to the under-valued remuneration fees, yet we hear little about the former in all the media speak, other from the impacted contractors feeling the pain.
Negotiations are taking place to try and fix the current funding crisis, and CPE have offered an attempt to demystify the process. However, contractors need to hear about outcomes, not process.
Questions pharmacy owners keep asking me:
- How much of the new money will be spent on IT infrastructure?
- What will have to be done to access the rest?
- How much will actually get through to the bottom line?
- When will it come?
- When will I get paid a fair price for the medicines I supply?
We have one contractual framework, one negotiator, so why not one vision, one plan and one voice?
One vision, one plan, one voice – #pharmacysvoice