One of the individuals heading up the review into community pharmacy representation and support has said she is “surprised that some contractors [do] not understand what they get now from LPCs and PSNC”.
Jennifer Johnston, an external consultant tasked with creating a programme plan and engaging stakeholders, told a press briefing yesterday (August 5) that recent focus group events demonstrated while some contractors were engaged with the issues others were less familiar.
Ms Johnston said the review steering group (RSG) wanted contractors to support the final outcome of the process because they understood it and were enthusiastic about it.
The RSG has now begun sharing draft proposals in what is expected to be an iterative process. Asked about how the proposals will take shape, she said: "The only thing I can guarantee is that the first option we send out is not going to be the final option, it will get better as we go through. We want to adapt them as we get the feedback from the different stakeholder groups."
She said the plan is to communicate the proposed future ways of working over the autumn, leading up to a contractor vote on the proposals late 2021 or early in 2022.
Asked what the outcome from the whole process was intended to be, Ms Johnston said: "Better services for the money. There are clearly some strong LPCs out there, but there isn't the consistency. How do we leverage the really good stuff that is happening from one part of the country to the rest."
"We're not looking to just tweak what PSNC and LPCs do now," she said. "We're looking at what we need, and then work out the change journey. The key is to develop the best value to contractors and optimising resources."
Among the roles identified for the national successor body to PSNC are negotiating, implementing and managing the community pharmacy contractual framework, providing centralised guidance and support for local organisations and representing community pharmacy at a national level.
Locally, roles identified include negotiating local contracts and services, representing the sector locally, developing and managing local relationships, with integrated care systems (ICSs) and partnerships (ICPs) as well as primary care networks, providing any local guidance and support necessary. Further discussion is planned on central support functions.
Ms Johnston said progress has not been significantly affected by news towards the end of last month that community pharmacy will be negotiating with integrated care systems (ICSs) locally as well as NHS England and NHS Improvement nationally.
“Through (our) focus groups, we’re trying to get the developing picture of ICSs and their functions. We’re taking soundings of what the NHS needs,” she said, describing it as “a maturing” process.