In December 2015, the Department of Health (DH) and NHS England notified the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee of changes they intended to make to the remuneration of community pharmacies. The response to these proposals is unprecedented. At the time of writing, more than half a million people have signed a petition asking the DH to reconsider these changes, with around 25,000 signatures being added daily. This is especially pleasing because it is clear that we have the support of the public.
It has also been the first time in my ten years of practice that community pharmacies of all types have banded together and come out in a unified stance. We have always competed with each other, because our contract being mainly driven by prescription volume, but are now all on the same side. We are not competing in a race to the bottom, just to ensure prescription figures are protected. We have stood up and said no to these ill-thought-out proposals. Most importantly, we all want what is best for our patients and now we are all singing form the same hymn sheet, we are better placed to do this than ever before.
I would like to use this new found unity to drive for changes to our contract that would make it better. Better for pharmacies, better for the NHS and, crucially, better for patients — the people we do this job for. As our professional body, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society should be leading the call for these changes and I sincerely hope that, in May, you will allow me to make sure each and every one of your voices is heard.
English pharmacy board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society