The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said that it hopes to start contract negotiations for community pharmacy “before Easter”, after the government promised the talks would start “shortly”.
In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal, the PSNC said it was “keen to start funding negotiations as soon as possible, and aim to start before Easter”.
The statement comes after Steve Brine, pharmacy minister, said in an answer to a written question in Parliament on 14 February 2019 that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) “expects to begin negotiations on the community pharmacy contractual framework with the [PSNC] shortly”.
The PSNC added in papers following its quarterly meeting on the 6th and 7th of February 2019 that because funding talks have not yet started, “it is expected that PSNC will need to negotiate an interim arrangement with DHSC, and preparations for that work have commenced”.
It added that the PSNC “is pressing for a multi-year funding settlement for community pharmacy in line with that agreed for GPs” but the negotiations have “been held up by Brexit contingency planning in DHSC”.
The PSNC further laid out its priorities in papers prepared for the PSNC’s Service Development Subcommittee meeting, held on 6 February 2019, which show that it has four “provisional priorities” for the contract negotiations, including “agreeing a new quality scheme” and “ensuring NUMSAS [NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service] is substantively commissioned in an effective manner”.
The body has also prioritised the “recommissioning of the flu vaccination service” and “ensuring DMIRS [Digital Minor Illness Referral Service] rollout and development … is undertaken in a way that works for contractors”.
Nearly 2,000 pharmacies have registered to offer DMIRS as part of an extended pilot project, which is due to run until March 2019.
The prime minister Theresa May said in a letter to the conference run by pharmacy wholesaler Sigma, which was being held in Oman on 17 February 2019, that the government wants to encourage “further collaboration and partnership with the NHS” and community pharmacy.
She said: “As reflected in the ‘NHS Long-Term Plan’, we are striving to effectively utilise the skill set and reach of community pharmacy, and it is good to see the sector continuing to explore ways in which this can be made a reality.”
The prime minister committed to developing “a stronger role for community pharmacy, making sure we encourage more people to use local pharmacies”.
The government negotiated a five-year GP contract with the British Medical Association in January 2019, which laid out plans for a typical “primary care network” of GP practices to include approximately five pharmacists as part of a multidisciplinary team that was first announced in the ‘NHS Long-Term Plan’, also in January 2019.