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Avicenna conference: change or fail, Soni warns

If pharmacists do not move from transactional activities to quality-based service delivery, “they will fail”, Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni warned Avicenna’s conference.

Independent pharmacists need to recognise they must adapt to deliver more clinical care from their pharmacies to enable better medicines use. “If you cannot do that,” he challenged delegates, “think about employing a young pharmacist who will do it for you. If you don’t want to do it, think about whether you want to continue to own your own pharmacy. The world is going to change around you. Your opportunity is to be part of that change. Your risk is you become the ostrich with your head buried in the sand.”

Reducing pharmacy staff numbers because of the cuts would be “the single biggest mistake you could make”, he said, because this would be looking at cutting cost rather than adding value. Pharmacists should make much more use of their staff to create the time to change their practice model. “If you are prepared to invest in your staff, they will give you back as much as you give to them.”

The future of independent community pharmacy is strong and the opportunities have never been greater. But pharmacists have to grasp the nettle.

Savings will definitely happen

Earlier in his presentation, Mr Soni told delegates that, in some shape or form, £170 million is certain to come out of the global sum on October 1. “It is not an option. NHS England has been given a budget of £2.63 billion for the community pharmacy contract – and that is it.”

The service development proposals put forward by PSNC are “interesting” with some potentially great ideas, but are they going to guarantee £170 million [of savings] this year, he asked. “Because if they aren’t, they are unlikely to be adoptable. The Government is going to meet its budgetary target, however you look at it.”

He pointed out that the proposed pharmacy integration fund, which will sit outside the global sum and amount to £300 million in total over five years, was pharmacy’s opportunity to deliver better patient outcomes from locally commissioned services and new models of care. “It is quite a lot of money but not as much as [the Government] is about to take out [of the global sum]. Pharmacy has to find other ways of replacing this lost income.”

As for the contract itself, the Government wants to move it from something that is transaction-based to a framework that starts to include quality and patient outcome measures. A King’s Fund review is currently looking at all pharmacy services and will inform contract negotiations for 2017-18.  “It may well be that medicines use reviews in their current form will go or that NMS interventions are offered automatically,” he speculated.


Ash Soni on... hub and spoke:

“It may improve access but there is no evidence that it provides an economic benefit.”

... service delivery:

“When [pharmacy] services are commissioned, pharmacists have to deliver them because that is the expectation. If they are not doing that, they are letting their patients down and undermining their professional credibility.”

... on ’clinical’ versus ’community’ pharmacists:

“The language used by ministers has been annoying. There is no difference. Community pharmacists provide clinical care.”



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