“Substantive negotiations” on a new community pharmacy contract are yet to start, Simon Dukes, chief executive at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), told delegates attending the LPC Conference 2018 held in Birmingham on 26 September.
Despite meeting with pharmacy minister Steve Brine at the beginning of September 2018, Dukes told his audience that the community pharmacy sector “needed to move to substantive negotiations for 2019/2020 as soon as we can”.
“Until then, we need to keep the show on the road,” he added.
Dukes described community pharmacy as “the safety net” for an under-pressure NHS and he paid tribute to the personal financial sacrifices that pharmacists had been making in difficult times.
“So many of you are dispensing at a loss and are in effect subsidising the government,” he said. “Patients have been protected from austerity by your good work.”
Dukes said pharmacists had ensured that more services were not cut and more pharmacies were not closed by “taking the hit” themselves, which included using credit or loans to ensure their business continued.
“This is no way to run a key part of the healthcare system,” he said.
Dukes also told local pharmaceutical committee members that the government had made it clear that there would be no extra money unless pharmacists were prepared to offer extra services. He warned that while pharmacists had provided many services effectively for free, they must be wary of providing any more services without reimbursement.
Dukes added that community pharmacy had to prepare itself for a fall in dispensing over the next few years because government wants fewer medicines prescribed and technical developments mean an inevitable rise in online dispensing.
“Young people in particular are going to look at how they can get their medicines in different ways to walking into a community pharmacy,” he said. “That is fact.”