Helping community pharmacies to engage with and support the new Primary Care Networks (PCNs) is an important part of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s 2019-20 strategy, the negotiator has said, telling Pharmacy Magazine that along with a number of organisations it is “currently considering” what form this engagement might take.
At PSNC’s February meeting (at which it also emerged that an interim funding contract will likely be needed), the opportunities and challenges posed by the NHS Long Term Plan and GP contract reforms were discussed. Community pharmacy must work to integrate itself into the emerging PCNs that are central to both policies, the meeting heard.
NHS Clinical Commissioners’ chief executive Julie Wood told the meeting that community pharmacy must demonstrate its value at a local level, including to CCGs, and should get involved in local Integrated Care Systems planning.
PSNC’s list of potential actions focused around the Long Term Plan include: using data to inform the national rollout of the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS); looking at how ‘clinical pharmacists’ could work in PCNs as employed by contractors; seeking a multi-year contract that integrates community pharmacy into PCNs; and ‘mapping’ PCNs to pharmacies and LPCs.
A PSNC spokesperson told Pharmacy Magazine the mapping process “means we will be identifying which pharmacies and LPCs are located in which PCN areas,” which would “help us to support them to engage at a local level”.
When asked what engagement between community pharmacy and primary care networks might look like in concrete terms, PSNC told Pharmacy Magazine that it is “currently considering the support needs of contractors in relation to PCNs with LPCs, the other pharmacy bodies and others such as the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC)”.
The meeting also heard of PSNC’s efforts to help pharmacies establish ‘provider companies’ that could bid to provide services in local pharmacies.
These provider companies could “potentially play a role in delivering any locally contracted services, including providing services to PCNs,” PSNC told Pharmacy Magazine.
PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton commented: “The new contract for GPs paves the way for unprecedented changes that will affect everyone working in primary care; community pharmacies included. PCNs bring together general practices and a range of other healthcare professionals to provide patient-focused care and we must all work to ensure that community pharmacies are involved and integrated with them.
“As a sector, achieving this will require not only working closely with GP colleagues, but also collaborating with one another, and embracing and delivering some of our own changes to help free up community pharmacists’ time to focus more on clinical services.”