Pharmacy bodies have called for a reduction in the number of local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) to reflect the changing structure of the NHS.
In response to a review of pharmacy representation commissioned jointly by England’s LPCs and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), three pharmacy bodies said cutting back on the number of LPCs would provide value for money.
The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) suggested that a cutback from 69 LPCs to 38, which it said would save £2.7m “from the operational cost of running the current network”.
“We are confident that fewer, stronger, local teams, that are directly connected, with improved co-ordination and support, would in turn be able to better support contractors as they engage with their local health systems,” said Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the CCA in a statement sent to The Pharmaceutical Journal.
The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) has suggested reducing the number of LPCs to 45 “in line with the number of [sustainability and transformation partnerships] STPs”, adding that by setting “clear lines of accountability and KPIs … there will be savings made”.
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) suggested a reduction of LPCs to between 40 and 50, which would feed into between 7 and 11 regional LPC hubs.
However, in its response to the review, published on 29 January 2020, the NPA said reducing the number of LPCs “should not equate to a reduction in local capacity to support the general body of pharmacy contractors”.
“On the contrary, any monies released from structural efficiencies should be reinvested to support local activity,” it added.
“This includes investing in a programme of support for the newly selected 1,259 pharmacy primary care network (PCN) leads.”
In October 2019, NHS England published plans to incentivise community pharmacists working in a PCN by nominating a lead pharmacist by 31 March 2020.
Commenting on the review in a personal capacity, Nick Kaye, who is associate chief officer at Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LPC and a board member at the NPA, said he supports “matching LPCs to NHS structures”.
He added that while responses suggesting scaling up to STP level “is helpful, I do think then that that funding should be redistributed back to support local [services at a PCN level]”.
Michael Keen, chief executive officer of Kingston and Richmond LPC, said the impact on the average community pharmacy of reducing the number of LPCs would be “significant if we go to the suggested regionalisation of representation”.
He added that suggestions of financial savings linked to reducing the number of LPCs “ignores the attention to detail, local relationships and local knowledge that will be required at a local level, within those regions”.