Proposals to reform LPCs unveiled to contractors

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Proposals to reform LPCs unveiled to contractors

Community pharmacy contractors in England will get a vote this summer on a set of proposals to reform representation and governance in the sector.   

The proposals, which were published this afternoon by a Review Steering Group (RSG) working from recommendations set out by professor David Wright in 2020, are aimed at strengthening governance, driving alignment with the NHS, ensuring representatives have enough resources and fostering collaboration.

The RSG is proposing that local pharmaceutical committees review their boundaries in line with those of the emerging integrated care systems, a move that will lead to a number of LPC mergers if contractors vote to accept the RSG’s package. 

The group is also calling for an “improved governance system” for LPCs, with common KPIs and better accountability . 

A key element of the proposals is an adjustment of how the contractor levy is split between LPCs and PSNC.

A suggested 13 per cent redirection of the total levy towards the national negotiating body will allow for “improved negotiating capacity and capability, better local and national contractor engagement, and [new] shared services for local and national bodies”. This is in line with the lower recommendation of the Wright Review. 

The current annual contractor levy of £11.3m is divided between PSNC (£3.4m) and LPCs (£7.9m). The average pharmacy contributes around £1,000 a year for representation and support, with £700 going to their LPC and £300 to PSNC. 

Increasing the contributions that LPCs make to PSNC, on a trajectory of an additional £1.5m a year by April 2024, will achieve “a better distribution of the £11.3m per year paid into contractor representation and support”, says the RSG.  

PSNC will need to support LPCs to make efficiencies to release this funding without increasing the overall burden on contractors, the group adds. Local pharmaceutical committees may decide to raise the contractor levy in exceptional cases although the RSG believes that efficiencies and changes within the LPC network will be sufficient to cover this shift in funding streams. 

A series of national and regional briefing events for contractors will take place in May and early June. Contractors can register to attend on the RSG website. Voting will take place over a three-week period from the end of May with the result announced in June. 

All contractors will be eligible to vote, with one vote allowed per contract and all votes equally weighted. Contractors will be asked to accept or reject the proposals in their entirety. A two-thirds majority of those casting a vote is required to approve the vote. The target voter turnout is two-thirds of the contractor base.

PSNC chief Janet Morrison commented: “Many of the RSG’s proposals match exactly what I would be looking to do as the new chief executive of PSNC to try to get a better deal next time: strengthen our negotiating capacity, develop a clear vision for the sector and a wider influencing strategy to get there, bring together the trade associations and others to get behind that strategy, and improve our relationship with LPCs so that there is less duplication of efforts and better two-way conversation.

“Community pharmacy representatives must all be working towards the same goals, and the RSG’s proposals seem to be a positive step towards making that happen better.”

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