PSNC pushes for more funding as 'challenging' Year 4 negotiations start
The PSNC has said it will continue to push for more funding in the face of Government opposition as talks on the fourth year of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework commence.
Announcing on Friday that “formal tripartite discussions” with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England & Improvement had kicked off, the negotiator said it would push for a funding uplift and continue to “seek fair funding for the walk-in advice that so many people are relying on from pharmacies”.
This position is being taken “despite assertions that the outcome of the spending review means a funding uplift is not possible,” said PSNC vice-chair Bharat Patel, acknowledging that the talks will be “very challenging”.
The negotiations will cover services, funding and other arrangements for pharmacies in England in the 2022-23 financial year, and will take into account the progress that has so far been made during the five-year contractual framework.
The talks are being conducted privately, with contractors to be notified once an agreement has been reached.
The PSNC said that while it “absolutely” shares the ambition of the NHS and Government that the sector should be more closely integrated with the wider health service, factors like staffing and capacity pressures that are partly due to the constraints of the five-year frozen funding arrangements are frustrating this goal.
Mr Patel said: “As we approach the end of Year 3 of the five-year CPCF arrangements, many contractors find themselves in an extremely difficult situation trying to balance spiralling costs, capacity pressures and the increasing workforce issues.
“Some of the immediate pressures of COVID-19 may appear to have gone away, but like most of the health service, pharmacies are not feeling any relief.
“We have been clear that without the injection of additional funding, capacity is unlikely to be able to grow, particularly at a time of accelerated pressures on staffing.”
He said the negotiator is “actively gathering evidence” on the work done by pharmacies – much of it unpaid – as it enters the talks.
Commenting on the announcement, National Pharmacy Association chair Andrew Lane said: “We understand why this will be a challenging round of negotiations, but all parties should proceed on the basis that pharmacies provide vital services and deliver for the NHS in a cost-effective way.
“It’s time to end the years of underfunding in England and instead invest in pharmacies to meet the growing healthcare needs of the population.”