The community pharmacy sector must collaborate and have more ‘dialogue’ with general practice if it is to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic in a 'better state than it entered it', the head of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

Now moving into the ‘restoration and recovery’ phase of the pandemic, community pharmacy must start to work in partnership with other health bodies including GP so that ‘[the sector] is in a position to be able to handle whatever is being asked of [it], PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said at a press briefing yesterday (June 3).

‘In the past, [the sector] has been guilty of developing a vision for community pharmacy in isolation and not in full discussion with our customer, the wider sector and general practice,’ Mr Dukes said.

After some GPs moved to video appointments in March, community pharmacy teams found themselves faced with a large number of additional patients with minor ailments, who would have otherwise have gone to their GP.

Mr Dukes commented that ‘local GPs with PCNs should have told pharmacies that they were doing this; to give them some warning so they could have braced themselves for that increase.’

Stronger collaboration between general practice and community pharmacy would be beneficial, Mr Dukes suggested.

Cogora's recent primary care survey revealed that general practice staff hold their local community pharmacies in relatively high regard; asked how they would rate their relationship with pharmacies in their area, 63% of GP’s said ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

However, there remain some signs of strain, found the survey, particularly when it comes to offering locally commissioned services.

Half of all pharmacy contractors said they view their local GP surgery as competition in service provision. Similarly, almost half of all GP’s consider their local pharmacy to be a source of direct competition when it comes to commissioned services.