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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

General News

PSNC - the word from your committee members

This month Garry Myers, independent contractor, PSNC regional representative for the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, and member of the PSNC Negotiating Team explains his role on the committee and talks about what the next six months have in store for pharmacy businesses.

What is your role on PSNC?

I was elected onto PSNC in 2005 and although it was nearly eight years ago I remember my first meeting very well because it was around the time that we agreed the new contractual framework. I joined the committee because I wanted to make a difference; as a contractor and member of Derbyshire LPC I had seen some of the issues causing problems for contractors locally and I wanted to work on resolving those and others at a national level. I also felt that I would be able to contribute usefully to the committee given all my experience in community pharmacy both at the coalface and managing a business.

I am now the PSNC regional representative for the east Midlands and south Yorkshire, as well as being vice-chairman of PSNC’s Funding and Contract subcommittee and one of the three independent contractor members of the Negotiating Team.

What is it like being a PSNC member?

I spend around 30-40% of my working week on PSNC work with the rest being spent on my own business. I have five community pharmacies, four of which are in healthcare locations, and also a medical practice which has given me an insight into how GP funding works – that has proved very useful in our funding negotiations and has helped us to ensure that community pharmacy is being treated fairly in relation to other primary care providers.

Personally I am never completely satisfied with the work we do as a committee because I think that would be complacent; I think we should always be looking at our work and thinking about what we could do better in the future.

So what will be your focus over the next few months?

The top priority for me, and indeed for the whole committee, is to complete the Cost of service Inquiry (COsI) based negotiations and secure a level of funding that will be acceptable for all contractors and will give some stability in income.

Can you tell us why that has been taking so long?

As a member of the Negotiating Team I have seen firsthand all the hurdles that we have faced in these tough negotiations. Firstly, the discussions we are having around the COsI and its findings have been extremely complex – as a contractor and PSNC member I had a good understanding of the funding system when we started the discussions, but even for me it has been complicated and time-consuming work.

Secondly, the environment in which we are working has made things incredibly difficult. Going through such complex discussions against the backdrop of a root and branch reform of the NHs being led by a Coalition Government has been a huge task both for us and the Department of Health (DH). The department has also had its own resources stretched as these changes have gone through, which has impacted on its capacity in all areas.

On top of this, there have been challenges caused by the economic environment. The Treasury has an important role to play in protecting the public purse in these times of austerity, but for us that means our discussions with the DH are being more closely scrutinised than ever and we are having to ensure that every bit of our case is very strong. As Government spending is squeezed, the Treasury’s demands are necessarily tough – that is affecting our negotiations and we have seen the impact it has had elsewhere with the recent breakdown in negotiations over GP funding leading to imposition of changes by the DH.

Do you have any advice for contractors for the next six months?

We know that many contractors are still not taking full advantage of the money available from advanced services such as MURs and the New Medicine service (NMS), and I would advise them to do so as far as is possible. This may of course help income levels in the short term, but it is even more important for the future.

The Government and Department of Health have stated their intentions to move the NHS community pharmacy service away from being so reliant on dispensing volumes and we need to keep that in mind – those contractors who are working on developing their service offering now will be in a much stronger position to take advantage of any new clinical and medicines optimisation opportunities that come up as we move towards those stated intentions. Many contractors assume that to do this they will need to employ a second pharmacist but that is not the case – a lot can be done with a properly trained team and by using the full capabilities of dispensers, technicians and ACTs and I would urge all contractors to make maximum use of the skill mix within their pharmacies.

And finally, while we are doing both these services and dispensing medicines, all pharmacies need to think about quality. There are always going to be people who will take every opportunity to criticise and denigrate what we do, so in the current economy and reformed NHS where there is always going to be competition, we need to ensure that community pharmacy services are delivered to a consistently high standard; quality is the name of the game now.

Posted 12 April 2013

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