Chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) Simon Dukes has said that worries over community pharmacy's capacity to deliver all that is being asked of it ‘keep [him] awake at night’.

Speaking at the Westminster Health Forum conference on the future of English pharmacy services today (20 November), Mr Dukes said that community pharmacy faces ‘significant challenges’.

These include the sector's capacity to deliver the contract's stipulations, including the community pharmacist consultation service (CPCS), collaboration and the new pharmacy quality scheme (PQS), he said.

He told delegates: ‘[Capacity] is the one that keeps me awake at night because we can only [deliver the CPCS and the contractual framework] if we have the capacity within business to do so.

‘But we are still at the mercy of a volume-driven funding model and that has got to change – and it will change. We have four years for it to change.’


Not a one-man band


Mr Dukes told delegates that community pharmacies will not have the ability to deliver the services required of them without making better use of the whole pharmacy team.

He said: ‘I don’t think we can deliver everything that we have to without more effective delegation. Even within the current regulatory and legislative framework, we can delegate more from the pharmacies that I’ve seen.

‘We can’t expect everything to be done by the pharmacist.’

The ‘two or three’ pharmacies he has visited since the roll-out of the CPCS in October told him that they have noticed an increase in patients asking to speak with the pharmacist, Mr Dukes added.

He said: ‘That’s great, but it’s a recognition of a particular role as opposed to a service. We’re only going to deliver on the breadth and scale that we need to if it’s a team effort.

‘We need to make sure that in the future we have the environment that allows even more delegation, with appropriate patient safety safeguards in place.’


Hub and spoke for all


Mr Dukes added that the sector must also make better use of technology, such as automation and hub and spoke, to free up capacity.

However, it must be made ‘available fairly for the entirety of the sector’, he said.

In the new five-year community pharmacy contract, announced in July, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) committed to legislative reforms that will ‘allow all pharmacies to benefit from more efficient hub and spoke dispensing’.

In August, former president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Ash Soni told The Pharmacist in an exclusive interview that he believes pharmacies operating in a group using a hub and spoke model is ‘the future’ for independents.