The Pharmacist September/October 2018 - Page 18

VIEWSINTERVIEW We’ve got to move on from the public viewing a pharmacist as someone who hands over a bag What does a service-based contract look like in terms of remuneration? We’ve seen examples of it already with the pilots of minor ailments services and that gives a sense of community pharmacy’s worth and value in this area. The challenge will be how we can get proper remuneration for those services. There’s no doubt on either side that they can be delivered by community pharmacy, but it’s about making sure that we’ve got a way of remunerating appropriately, and that’s where the negotiations start. Do you think the concessionary prices system is working well? It certainly increases the workload at PSNC quite substantially and therefore increases the amount of time needed to do it properly. We are under increasing pressure to deliver in a relatively short space of time on this. I think it [the process] needs refining. How would you do that? Well, it has to be in consultation and discussion with the Government. But we can’t have a system where the potential exists for community pharmacists to effectively supplement the Government through selling drugs at a cost. So we’ve got to find a way to deal with that and – especially with the technology available to us – make a system that works more in real time or at least doesn’t have such a delay built into it. Do you anticipate that shortages could get worse over the coming months? How do you think Brexit and the falsified medicines directive (FMD) could affect the supply chain? Clearly, these are going to be big challenges. We’re working with the DHSC and the Government more generally on some Brexit challenges. We’ve also formed our own Brexit panel here where not only the other representative groups, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the National Pharmacy Association, but also distributors are members so we’re doing all we can to try and address Brexit. What are some of the key challenges facing independent pharmacies now? The cash-flow issues that were and are being 18 | The Pharmacist | September/October 2018 caused at the moment because of the funding cuts and the increases in drug prices are eating away at savings — if, indeed, small pharmacies have got any savings left. And actually, this applies to multiples too. And it’s that sum of money that will eventually be needed to deliver some of the changes that we want for service-based contracts. My concern is that as they’re already facing quite severe, and in some cases, financial challenges themselves, they’re not going to have the money to make some of those substantial changes to deliver on service-based outcomes. PSNC recently secured a £15m increase in Category M payments. Did that feel like a big achievement? It was a good sign of the future of collaborative working between PSNC and the Government. The most important thing was that it relieved the cash-flow pressure temporarily on contractors and what we need to do now we’ve got this breathing space is to start discussing a more long-term solution. Do you think it goes far enough to alleviate those pressures? Well, it’s a start, isn’t it? Is there anything else you’d like to say to The Pharmacist’s readers? It’s a great honour to be in this role. The reason I was interested in the job in the first place was because community pharmacy has got a really important part to play in our healthcare process. I don’t think they’re seen as being part of the NHS, yet 90% of their income comes from the NHS and we need to do something collectively – again, this isn’t just a PSNC thing, this is across community pharmacy – to ensure that the pharmacist, a very well-qualified healthcare professional, is seen in the same light as others equally qualified in the NHS and wider. We need to ensure that we claim that back. How can that be achieved? We’re talking about a culture change so that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about having discussions within the sector and I think moving slowly towards a service-based contract will help. This is the change – the fact that you go to your pharmacist because you’re feeling unwell and they may be able to treat you there and then or refer you onto general practice. It’ll take a generation, but all of a sudden you’ll start to see pharmacists viewed as they should be viewed rather than someone who hands over a bag. We’ve got to move on from that. Beth Kennedy is editor-in-chief of The Pharmacist. MORE ONLINE For the full interview, visit