Following the judge's finding against the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and National Pharmacy Association (NPA) during the judicial review, and the news that Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the PSNC, plans to resign by the end of the year, many questions have been left unanswered for the pharmacy sector.
Now the PSNC has responded to some of the most common questions following the changes for the organisation:
1. Who will take over from Sue and how will this affect things?
The Committee was only informed of her decision at the meeting this month. It is considering the recruitment process for replacing her, but that process will of course take time.
2. What happens now?
The funding changes brought in in the December 2016 Drug Tariff will remain in force and continue to apply to community pharmacies. PSNC will seek to begin discussions with the Government on the future of community pharmacy beyond 2017/18 at the earliest opportunity, but clearly these will not begin until after the General Election on 8th June 2017. The funding cuts are having an adverse impact on community pharmacy businesses who will have to continue to seek to mitigate them and to think carefully about the services they are able to offer.
3. Are you seeking any further legal advice?
PSNC is consulting its lawyers about the decision and the possibility of an Appeal. It is too early to make any decision on this.
4. What is the PSNC's next step following the judge's ruling?
PSNC’s objective now is to ensure that the valuable contribution that community pharmacies make to local communities and the NHS is never again disregarded. Notwithstanding the need for the NHS to make considerable efficiency savings, we must seek to convince policy makers of the need to protect and support a strong community pharmacy network. There is much work to be done, not only in detailed negotiations with DH and the NHS, but in communicating with the new Government after the election, ensuring the evidence supporting community pharmacy is robust, and more widely in pressing for the findings of the Murray Report to be adopted and for the role of community pharmacy to be developed as set out in the Community Pharmacy Forward View.
5. Does the PSNC expect further funding cuts in 2018/19?
PSNC will seek to start negotiations on 2018/19 as soon as possible after the General Election. It is unknown at present whether further cuts are intended by the DH or NHS for future years. The DH has indicated its intention to continue to reduce the Establishment Payment.