The outgoing PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes told the LPC conference today that his decision to leave his post had nothing to do with events in the pharmacy sector and that he had "always intended to leave at the four-year point".
Mr Dukes (pictured) is stepping down at the end of the month after just over three and-a-half years in the role as the PSNC braces itself for negotiations with the government on the fourth year of the five-year community pharmacy contractual framework.
He said year four talks could “possibly” begin this year but warned “it’s unlikely we’ll be starting much before November.”
The PSNC announced Mr Dukes would leave two days before NHS England and Improvement’s letter to the heads of integrated care systems on July 22 confirming its plan to delegate responsibility for the commissioning of primary care services including pharmacy to ICSs.
“My leaving is not a reaction to anything happening in this sector. I always intended to leave at the four-year point. An opportunity arose a little earlier than expected and I took it,” he said, adding that his departure at this stage will allow his successor sufficient lead time to work on contractual arrangements once the current framework ends in 2024.
Mr Dukes also said his departure will not affect the work of the Review Steering Group tasked with overseeing reforms to the PSNC and LPCs and insisted “ultimately, it’s going to be for contractors to shape this, not any of us.”
Ami Lakhani, a member of the RSG project team and consultant with the Berkeley Partnership who have been working with the Group, did not give a firm date on when proposals will be shared with contractors to vote on, although she said they will be revealed “in the coming weeks.”
PSNC communications director Zoe Long said contractors will “hear a lot more” about the draft proposals “in the next couple of weeks” and insisted “from a comms perspective, we want there to be debate.”
The Group said it would hold a vote on the proposals at the end of this year or early next year.
Ms Lakhani also said focus groups had told the RSG they wanted “better articulation” of the overall case for change and clarification of how things would be tangibly different for contractors.
RSG secretary James Wood said the Group had met in the last couple of weeks and made progress and insisted it was placing much emphasis on LPCs’ ability to make an impact within ICSs going forward among other things.
“Hopefully over the next few weeks we will be able to communicate more thinking with the sector,” he said.
“Considerations include the future of the community pharmacy contractual framework, the balance of national versus local commissioning and what is likely to be delegated to ICSs by 2023, the approach to boundaries by the NHS and others and a gap analysis of what is yet to be determined by the NHS about ICS ways of working and about LPC and indeed other local representative committee recognition.”