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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

General News

PSNC - the word from your committee members

In the first of a new series designed to help you find out more about PSNC committee members, Raj Patel of Hollowood Chemiststalks about what it’s like to sit on the committee and what contractors can expect in the coming year.

How long have you been a member of PSNC?

I think since around 2000, so a number of years. I’m an NPA representative on the full committee and I sit on the Funding and Contract subcommittee.

What’s the best thing about being a PSNC committee member?

The best thing about being on PSNC, and I think this is the thing that every committee member wants, is being able to make a real difference to the profession in a positive way. We try to be constructive and to be the voice of our contractors through both our own experiences in practice and from speaking to contractors in our constituencies. My aim is to gain an understanding of their problems and then bring that back to the table so that we can do something about it and make a difference for them. Of course it’s not an easy task trying to get the best for everyone and we’re never going to keep everybody happy. But we do try to do things that the majority of people are content with and that will make a positive difference, and when we achieve those things, I feel that we’re doing a good job.

Do you have any highlights from your time on PSNC?

I was very heavily involved in the 2005 contract negotiations as I was a member of the negotiating team, and that was a very interesting time. It was bewildering because it was a huge task that we had taken on and there were so many strands that needed to be tied up within the new framework. It took a huge amount of work and then a lot of negotiation as we got towards the end of the job, but it was great to be a part of all of that and then to have a new contractual framework from it.

How do you have time to do all of that as well as running your business?

By getting other people to do things for me! I couldn’t do all of the things I do, such as my committee work, and still work every single day in a pharmacy. It’s very hard for community pharmacists to do the day job now when you take into account all the fire-fighting that needs to be done and the administrative tasks on top of supply and services. And it’s monumentally difficult for contractors practising five days a week to do all of that and keep on top of their business as well - I’m constantly impressed by those who are juggling it all and still managing to deliver great services to their patients.

So do you have any advice for others struggling to do everything?

Prioritisation is really important. It is important to keep on top of the business and when we consider we are juggling a number of balls at any one time, it is imperative to ensure that tasks are completed. I have always advised my pharmacists to prioritise and know what they have to do each day and focus on that – if you let things linger the list will only get longer tomorrow, and, as we all know, tomorrow never comes.

How has pharmacy changed since you first became a member of PSNC?

Pharmacy has changed beyond recognition over the last 10 years or so as we have shifted towards services and medicines management rather than focussing solely on procurement. Our patients have bestowed a huge amount of trust in us during that time, too – ten years ago we would never have imagined that we might be giving flu jabs and that many patients would choose to come to us for them rather than going to the GP practice. But we’ve really shown patients and our paymasters what we can do and how well we have done it.

As pharmacy delivers an increasing number of services, do you have a particular favourite?

I do think that pharmacists can take a lot of satisfaction from delivering MURs, but overall for me flu vaccination is the favourite. It’s a service that many patients want and our accessibility can be a real help for them - often they just pop in and we can give them the jab in a few minutes without them needing to have an appointment. We now offer a very professional service with consultation rooms. Appropriate training means we’re confident delivering it and all the feedback so far suggests that patients are confident in us too. We only started offering the service last year and we had a number of people coming back to us this time.

What do you think 2013 holds for contractors?

Remuneration is tough and for all the obvious reasons that is not likely to change in the immediate future so contractors are going to have to continue to really focus on controlling costs and expenses. We also need to be aware that in the future pharmacy will need to look at increasing the number of services it provides and generating as much income as possible from those – if we can do that then it becomes possible to move away from a supply only function. There are already people rising to this challenge and my message for all pharmacies is to try to make 2013 the year that they too rise to that challenge. Doing nothing is not an option, but pharmacy will be fruitful to those who are willing to rise to the challenge.

Posted 14 January 2013

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