The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has changed its name to Community Pharmacy England as part of a move to become a ‘stronger representative body’ for the sector.

It said that it also intends to improve its dialogue with pharmacy owners with a new engagement and communications strategy, in line with the Review Steering Group (RSG) proposals which pharmacy owners voted in favour of in 2022.

The review, launched in 2019, was funded by Community Pharmacy England (formerly known as PSNC) and Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) and aimed to ensure that the support they provide to contractors presents the ‘best value for money’.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Community Pharmacy England described the rebranding as a ‘positive step forwards’ in the ‘critical work’ of transforming the negotiator into a ‘stronger representative body’ for contractors.

In a statement to community pharmacy owners today she said: ‘You have told us that you want a stronger, more authoritative body that you feel closer to, and that is what we are trying to achieve.

‘It has little to do with logos or pretty colours – those matter, because if you want authority and credibility you need to look the part – but without wider changes in culture and strategy, which we are fully committed to and already embarking on, they mean little.’

She added: ‘As we move forwards with negotiations on the Primary Care Access Plan and look ahead to publication of a wider vision for the sector, this new name will stand us in good stead to keep influencing the people that we need to: ministers, the NHS, and the wider public. It also marks a step-change in how we talk to you, our pharmacy owner members.’

After the RSG proposals were announced, Community Pharmacy England launched  the Transforming Pharmacy Representation (TAPR) programme to address them.

In 2022, Community Pharmacy England (PSNC) said that work had begun on ‘early priorities’ but it also must consider how to fund the TAPR programme – and pointed to resource constraints on the team.

At the time, Community Pharmacy England (PSNC) chair Sue Killen said that the negotiator would need to be ‘realistic about what is possible until we can bring in some more dedicated resource’, adding: ‘Indeed, the need to provide additional resource to PSNC was one of the RSG recommendations.’

In October 2022, Community Pharmacy England (PSNC) announced that its levies would increase from April 2023, and would be calculated based on contractor NHS income, rather than number of NHS items dispensed.

And in March, it published its latest TPR progress update, in which it confirmed that it had commissioned Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund to develop a new vision and strategic options for community pharmacy, and that an initial report would be published for consultation in April or May 2023.

A spokesperson for Community Pharmacy England confirmed to The Pharmacist today that the report was currently in the draft stages and was being reviewed to reflect the government’s recently published Primary Care Access Plan, and that they expected to have an initial report to share soon.

Community Pharmacy England also said in its March update that it had begun work on its influencing and negotiating strategies with PR and communications agency Luther Pendragon.

And a spokesperson today confirmed that it was progressing with its work to support LPCs, including starting discussions about launching an LPC Forum later this year, dependent on the changes that LPCs are currently undergoing.

In addition, it confirmed that for the financial year 2023/24, Community Pharmacy England demanded around £4m in total levies from LPCs in England and said that the total amount allocated to national negotiations would increase by £1.5m a year over the next two years as it worked towards negotiating the next national contract.

But it said that the RSG did not expect that the increased funding allocated by LPCs to national contributions would result in an overall increase in costs to contractors, but instead ‘could be delivered from efficiencies within LPCs’.