Do PCNs offer a chance to fall back in love with pharmacy?


By Beth Kennedy

23 May 2019

Underfunded, underappreciated and underwhelmed.

Based on new research, it’s easy to understand why some pharmacists have had enough. The results of our recent State of Primary Care survey reveal that pharmacists are struggling with low morale more than any other primary care professional group — so much so, that half of contractors are close to packing in the profession altogether.

Pharmacist respondents to the survey told us that issues, such  as patient demands, criticism from politicians and stock shortages, had left them counting down the days until they can leave community pharmacy.

But could that change with the emergence of primary care networks (PCNs)? The networks are groups of GP practices, working with other local health providers, responsible for delivering local health outcomes to  a cohort of 30,000-50,000 patients.

So, I hear you ask, why should community pharmacy be excited by PCNs? Well, the Government has stipulated that other local contractors such as pharmacists will have to be part of PCNs from next year.

At our event Pharmacy Forward on 12 May, we heard many stories of community pharmacies already getting involved with PCNs by filling in service provision gaps and forging positive relationships with local practices. To learn how to do the same, see our break-down on everything you need to know about the networks and how to find your place within them.

As history has shown, GPs can be reluctant to share opportunities with pharmacy, so it’s unlikely that PCN places will be handed to contractors on a plate. That’s why it’s so important for pharmacists to begin discussions with their local PCNs from the off. The opportunity for the shake-up pharmacy so badly needs is there — but contractors must decide to take charge of their own future and demand a seat around the table.

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