The sector must have ‘difficult conversations’ about the hub and spoke model and delegation if it is to become more service-based, the head of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

Moving towards a service-based model, as set out in the NHS long term view, will present ‘distinct challenges’, meaning that pharmacists will have to find new ways of ‘freeing up capacity’, PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes told delegates via a video link at the Sigma conference in Muscat, Oman yesterday (17 February).

This may mean having ‘difficult conversations’ about adopting the hub-and-spoke model and ‘how that fits into the wider sense of our community’, he said.

Mr Dukes added: ‘We have to think about the pharmacists themselves – how do we free up pharmacists’ time so that they can spend more time in a patient facing clinical role? And that means having conversations about delegation and supervision. We need to think about the sector as a whole.’

The hub-and-spoke model has been controversial in the past, with it being mooted by the Government after 2016's funding cuts as a way for pharmacies to merge and speed up their dispensing process.

Mr Dukes has previously outlined ambitions for the next community pharmacy contract, negotiations for which he told delegates will begin as early as April, to remunerate pharmacists more for delivering clinical services as opposed to the current dispensing volume model.

His wish to move towards a more service-based contract was echoed by pharmacy minister Steve Brine, who told delegates via video link that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) hopes to negotiate an agreement that supports 'services that are complementary to those set out in the GP contract'.