The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) could be renamed ‘Community Pharmacy England’ (CPE), if proposals for a sweeping overhaul of the representative body go ahead.
An ‘Independent Review of Community Pharmacy Contract Representation and Support’, published on 19 June 2020, also recommended replacing the PSNC committee with a council of elected Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) chairs – called the CPE Council.
The review was commissioned by the PSNC and LPCs in September 2019 and conducted by David Wright, professor of pharmacy practice at the University of East Anglia, who said that one of the aims of the review was to improve the outcome of negotiations with government officials “to ensure that contractors receive value” for the money paid through LPC and PSNC levies.
“The negotiation outcomes, we know, haven’t been great the last couple of times,” he said. “I think some of those things were outside the hands of the PSNC but actually the feeling is that could be done better.”
He added that the review revealed “ubiquitous agreement” among LPC contractors and representatives “that the PSNC performance with respect to negotiation outcomes had to improve.”
“There was no satisfaction with that system as it was,” he said.
“There was also repeatedly throughout the process a desire for a national vision of strategy and a recognition [that] without one it’s very hard for the negotiating committee to be effective,” he added.
“If they don’t have the voice of pharmacy behind them… then how is that going to work when they’re negotiating [and] the other side don’t know clearly what they’re wanting?”
Wright’s review recommended that a new CPE Council would be subdivided into policy development groups, which the review document says would “consider all aspects of community pharmacy within the negotiation process.”
These groups would feed into an “employed and extensively trained” negotiating team, proposed to lead future contract discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England.
The CPE Council would be overseen by a CPE governance and strategy board, which would include representatives from the National Pharmacy Association, Company Chemists’ Association and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies.
Commenting on the review, Simon Dukes, chief executive of the PSNC, said the review was “right to praise many of the individuals working in PSNC and LPCs — the energy, ability and sheer dedication of so many people in this sector have impressed me — but also to find that some of the systems in which they find themselves working are in need of significant improvement.”
He added that the PSNC will discuss the proposals with LPCs on 8 July 2020.