PSNC and LPCs have been working closely together since the publication of the findings of Professor David Wright’s independent review into contractor representation and support over the summer.
The review was commissioned to find ways for PSNC and the LPCs to work better together, with the ultimate goal of improving the service that we collectively give to contractors and strengthening the sector’s representation and negotiating position.
The outcome of the review was published over the summer and it resulted in 33 recommendations for the future of PSNC and the LPCs. You can read about the report and its findings here.
Since then, PSNC and LPCs have been discussing a way forward. It is clear that the recommendations need to be explored in more detail, particularly looking at the benefits they would bring, the feasibility of implementing them, and any associated costs.
The Review Steering Group
To take forward that exploratory work, PSNC last month proposed to LPCs the formation of a group, called the Review Steering Group (RSG).
Key points about the RSG include:
- It will be made up of contractors to ensure fair representation of all groups of contractors;
- Its role will be to explore Professor Wright’s recommendations in more detail and to come up with a workable proposal for the sector;
- The Group will need to commission work to help it to do this – this will be through working and engagement groups made up of wider groups of people from across the sector, and possibly using external experts and consultants;
- This work will be funded initially by PSNC, through savings made as a result of COVID-19 related travel restrictions; and
- The Group will not be a decision-making body – it will be for all contractors to decide whether or not they want to accept whatever the RSG proposes to them.
The proposal for the RSG stresses the critical need for the group to fully engage contractors in the next steps of this work – the group will need a comprehensive communications plan, and we expect it to update contractors via webinars on a regular basis.
This week the majority of LPCs who have been in touch with PSNC have supported the proposal. This is good news, but it is also not surprising given the consensus that we have all previously reached. Members of the RSG will now to be selected by AIM, CCA and the PSNC Regional and NPA Representatives.
Some LPCs raised valid questions about the RSG – both about how the RSG will carry out its work, and also about how members will be selected to it. In particular they were concerned about how independent contractors can apply to be on the RSG; about the timing of the process; about the need for transparency; and about how we can involve new faces in the process.
PSNC agrees that AIM, CCA and the Regional and NPA Representatives must seek to appoint RSG Members who will keep contractors at the heart of this work and who can reflect and represent the diversity of views and businesses within our sector. Their selection processes should be as fair and transparent as they can make them. As we hand the process over to them, we will once again stress these points.
Any independent contractor interested in being on the RSG should contact their PSNC Regional Representative this week.
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:
“Community pharmacy contractors are doing everything they can to help their patients and local communities through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It has never been more critical that LPCs and PSNC represent and support them in the best way possible.
We have been working since last year to find ways to improve the ways in which we work to get better outcomes for contractors. The formation of a steering group will be the next stage in that work and we hope it will kickstart a process that can really engage with all contractors and the wider sector, and lead to meaningful changes the benefit all pharmacy businesses.
The steering group will have much work to do to develop proposals and then to communicate those effectively to contractors for their decision. It will need to commission work through working groups and, possibly, external experts, and they will need to find ways to bring in the ideas of anyone in the sector who has them – perhaps through a Contractor Forum and other bodies
The RSG will have whatever support they need from PSNC in those efforts, including the provision of a Secretariat function. I look forward to seeing their proposals in due course.”