Pharmacy contractors have just a few days left to have their say on the future of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs).

A three-week voting period on proposed changes to the PSNC and LPCs, recommended by a Review Steering Group (RSG) set up to ensure contractors receive the best value for money from the levies they pay, closes at midnight on Friday (17 June).

The RSG, which is comprised of 10 representatives from across pharmacy, has been working for 15 months to examine findings of a report published in 2020 from Professor David Wright on contractor representation and support in England.

Recommendations by the RSG include reducing LPC committee sizes, and limiting PSNC and LPC membership for all committees and subcommittees to 12 years of service.

In its recommendations, the RSG said a ‘yes’ vote ‘will set a clear mandate for change,’ with recommendations expected to be implemented from July and fully completed by the end of 2023/24. However, a ‘no’ vote by contractors could leave the future of the project uncertain, with RSG commenting that ‘doing nothing is not an option.’

With the average pharmacy contractor paying £1,000 per year for representation and support - £700 to LPCs and £300 to PSNC - the RSG also proposes diverting an additional 13% of funds from LPCs to PSNC to ‘rebalance the funding of local and national bodies.'

Introducing key performance indicators (KPIs) to help deliver improvements and promote transparency, and removing use of the term ‘chemist’ in communications are also among the recommendations made by the group.

If the recommendations are implemented, PSNC will change its name to Community Pharmacy England and LPCs will be rebranded as Community Pharmacy Local.

Other key recommendations of the report include:

  • Organise pharmacy representation regions to match the seven NHS regions: East of England, London, Midlands, North East & Yorkshire, North West, South East, South West.
  • Provide further support for all LPCs by increasing central service development and support capacity, advice and information sharing.
  • Provide support that standardises practices across the LPC network in line with good practice on HR and finances.
  • Achieve efficiencies through reducing duplication by LPCs and increasing collaboration.

The RSG, made up of pharmacy representatives from across the sector, has made 37 proposals across six main areas:

  • Independent governance of LPCs and PSNC.
  • Appropriately resource PSNC to improve negotiating outcomes and carry out its full range of functions for contractors.
  • Develop a new national vision and strategy for community pharmacy.
  • Listen better to contractors so their voices are better heard at all levels.
  • Reduce variation between LPCs, improve their efficiency and focus their activities.
  • Review the efficiency, size and shape of the LPC network.

All contractors should have received a unique link for the voting portal on 27 May. The majority of pharmacy owners will have received this to the shared NHSmail email inbox of each of their pharmacy premises, or to a nominated head office contact. The email will be from ‘CES’ sent out from [email protected].

The vote asks contractors to either accept or reject the proposals in their entirety. The ballot question is: ‘Do you accept the proposals setting the direction for pharmacy representation?’

Last month, PSNC's chief executive Janet Morrison encouraged pharmacy contractors to ‘come together’ in support of the proposals.