PSNC refuses to negotiate until government shares plans for community pharmacy

Sue Sharpe chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

Community pharmacy negotiators are refusing to negotiate with the government over its planned 6% cut in community pharmacy funding in England until it has seen details of the government’s long-term plans and the evidence behind them.

The move comes as the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) voiced its fears that the government is deliberately keeping it in the dark about deeper cuts to come.

“We cannot agree to commence negotiations before we have had an opportunity to understand fully your plans and the analysis underpinning them,” says PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe in a letter to England’s chief pharmaceutical officer on 15 January 2016. “We believe we are entitled to this material but it has not been forthcoming. The government appears to have a settled intention to proceed on a course of action that will run counter to its stated ambition to develop a clinically focused pharmacy service, and be damaging to patient care.”

She tells Keith Ridge that the PSNC is worried that the government is planning much deeper spending cuts in 2017–2018 than the 6% already planned for 2016, after the health secretary failed to provide the PSNC with details of contractual funding beyond 2016 in time for its January PSNC meeting.

Sharpe says the 6% cut will force pharmacies to cut staff and damage patient confidence in the profession; the PSNC is also suspicious of government plans to create more online pharmacy services.

The government policy is “ill-informed… driven by an equally ill-informed view that there is surplus funding that can be extracted from the sector”, she adds.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2016, Vol 296, No 7885;296(7885):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20200509