So-called clinical pharmacists working in primary care networks (PCNs) threaten to 'overtake' the community pharmacy sector, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief executive has said.

Mark Lyonette highlighted this as a ‘fundamental’ threat when he addressed delegates at the Sigma conference in Muscat on Sunday (17 February).

He said: ‘Some of the threats to community pharmacy are so fundamental that the battle isn’t so much about which ownership model succeeds, it’s more about whether the whole of community pharmacy is overtaken or substituted over time by a growth in clinical pharmacists working in primary care networks.

The Government wants to recruit several pharmacists to work in PCNs across the country, Mr Lyonette told delegates. However, this could still provide ‘all sorts of opportunities’ for community pharmacy if the sector can negotiate these properly, he said.

The recently-announced GP contract – which saw £4.5bn in funding over five years, including 70% of the money needed for each practice to employ a pharmacist – dealt another blow to the sector, Mr Lyonette said.

He said: ‘Inevitably, all our members heard that focus on clinical pharmacists and community pharmacists not getting much of a look in. That makes it very difficult to sell a new vision.’

At the time, the NPA warned that the contract could intensify fears that community pharmacists would leave the sector in favour of ‘migrating’ to GP practices.