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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

General News

South of England contractors take part in live funding webinar

Contractors across the south of England received a funding update and had a chance to put their questions to PSNC’s Head of Finance in a live webinar organised by south of England LPCs in January.

The update, which contractors were able to listen to from their computers covered topics such as what has happened to the Cost of service Inquiry and why the margin element of funding does not increase every year. 

PSNC’s Mike Dent and regional representative for the South Central region Gary Warner then answered contractors’ questions live (a selection of the topics covered and PSNC’s responses to them are included below).

More than 150 pharmacists from across Oxfordshire, East Sussex, Berkshire, Kent, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Dorset, Devon, Surrey, Swindon and Wiltshire, West Sussex and Avon LPCs, signed in to the webinar on the evening and the feedback about the event was overwhelmingly positive.

The contractors have also been able to access the webinar ‘on demand’ if they missed the live event, too.

PSNC is keen to support LPCs as they help their contractors to understand funding, and any LPCs interested in hosting a similar webinar event should contact zoe.smeaton@psnc.org.uk.

Q&As from the webinar

Why do PSNC negotiations appear to be in secret with no input to or from the pharmacists who pay their wages?

Gary Warner: PSNC is a committee of contractors. As one of those contractors I am deeply involved in my business and am a practising community pharmacist and the same is true for many of my colleagues on PSNC – some of us own our own businesses and the remainder have jobs which rely on those businesses succeeding. If we get it wrong, like all the other contractors around the country, we suffer; if we get it right, we are rewarded too.

The progress of discussions on future funding is confidential, because the Department of Health, like other negotiators here and in the other home countries, will not negotiate in public. But as contractors ourselves, PSNC ensures that contractors’ interests are represented at all times during the negotiations.

Many very large supermarket retailers use 100hr pharmacy contracts to drive footfall to their grocery and clothing offers. They can subsidise their pharmacy operating costs but this drains other local pharmacies. How is this discussed with the DH?

Mike Dent: As a committee PSNC was very concerned about the impact that the unrestricted opening of 100hr exempt pharmacies could have, especially where these do not provide any improvements in accessibility, and worked hard to try to get the Department of Health to remove the exemptions. It was a very difficult argument, but we got there in the end.

Supermarket costs were collected in the Cost of Service Inquiry and actually because they have reasonably high rent and are open for extended hours, these pharmacies have high costs. Having their costs included in the inquiry is therefore something that could help to drive up the total funding for everybody, so the fact that they exist is helpful as we work to get a settlement.

How are the problems of the implementation of the CIP programme to be finalised?

Mike Dent: PSNC recognised early on the problems with the Capacity Improvement Programme and our auditing work has allowed us to push for improvements and to get financial recognition of the fact that contractors are not being paid correctly. Unfortunately, the NHS BSA’s is the only system that is available to pay contractors, so we are stuck with it and PSNC’s job has to be to work with them as closely as possible to try to improve it. PSNC has invested recently in a new auditing system and we have proposed turning the system on its head so that contractors can do what any other business would do and invoice the NHS – that discussion is ongoing.

What costs savings can be made through reduced hospital admissions of asthma patients by improving medicines adherence?

Gary Warner: A report published last year on a respiratory MURs project in the South Central region demonstrated clearly that as community pharmacists we can make a significant impact when we talk to patients about their inhaler technique. Combined with evidence that improving inhaler technique can reduce hospital admissions, this suggests that pharmacies could deliver cost savings to the NHS. PSNC’s service Development subcommittee, which I chair, is looking at the figures on that because if we can evidence the savings we are making, we hope to be able to keep these services going and to ensure that the value pharmacy is adding is recognised and rewarded.

Posted 30 January 2013

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