By Richard Thomas, editor, Pharmacy Magazine

Is the new contractual framework in England a good deal or a bad one for community pharmacy?

Rather like Orthrus, the two-headed dog in Greek mythology with each head pointing in a different direction, there are two diametrically opposed views on this. Both are represented in this issue, from “total disaster” on the one hand to “best hope of changing our fortunes” on the other.

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By Alexander Humphries

For community pharmacists the last few years have been an emotional roller-coaster, from the pits of despair to the giddy heights of... mere despondency.

If you are anything like me, you will have been living hand-to-mouth, struggling to pay the bills at the end of the month, while the decision-makers from their insulated metropolitan bubbles look to strangle the sector financially because they perceive there are too many pharmacies.

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By patient representative Graham Prestwich

Four themes stood out for me at the symposium, which was organised by NHS England/ NHS Improvement.

Firstly, the language used, ‘deprescribing’, is not the best and not always helpful. Everyone I spoke to recognised this and, as a wide variety of people are involved, the most appropriate words may vary.

Clearer descriptions will and must emerge as this work progresses. What was agreed is that this is about improving health and wellbeing, about making sure that people for whom medicines are no longer beneficial are no longer prescribed them. Good quality care invariably costs less for everyone involved, and most of all for patients themselves. The healthier we feel, the better – and the less likely we are to require health services.

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By Simon Dukes, chief executive PSNC

You may well be thinking that primary care networks (PCNs) is just another primary care shake-up. In some ways it is – but there are some important ways in which this one is different for us.

First, this change is going to reroute a lot of primary care funding directly through networks of GP practices while specifying seven key services that these networks must deliver.

Some of these services are due for roll-out from April 2020 and they include structured medication reviews (by clinical pharmacists), enhancing health in care homes, anticipatory and personalised care, supporting early cancer diagnosis, CVD diagnosis and prevention, and local action to tackle inequalities.

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By Richard Thomas, Editor, Pharmacy Magazine

The contract talks between PSNC and the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England remain shrouded in secrecy but some strong clues are beginning to emerge.

Pharmacy’s negotiators are pushing hard for a multi-year settlement like the one the GPs have, while urgent care is a key priority for the NHS as underlined in the Long Term Plan. A national minor illness referral service is very much on the cards.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments recognised some time ago the benefits that such schemes offer patients and the NHS, so it is good to see England catching up at last. However, where Scotland and Wales diverge from England is over medicines optimisation in long-term conditions.

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