The NHS wants a vibrant community pharmacy network at the heart of the NHS.
Does anyone really knows what this means?
So perhaps we should offer a little explanation.
Dispensing is a dying art – it is too expensive and undervalued. NHS England perhaps driven by the treasury wants to cut it, change it and cut it again. There may be positive changes to the core contract, but you really would need a crystal ball to see what will happen there.
Members of the public love their pharmacy – brilliant – but it won’t change George’s mind.
The big problem that nobody talks about is that the business model is wrong – as simple as that – wrong – and you don’t need a business guru to tell you that. Community Pharmacies that rely heavily on the payments within the core contract are going to fail. I may comment that only a fool puts their all of their eggs in one basket, but that has been encouraged by the procurement driven NHS and we now have procurement driven community pharmacy. How can we have driven community pharmacy from a balanced income model (50% NHS core) to a disaster waiting to happen (95% NHS core) over 20 years? In truth, the fool is the one that doesn’t realise the precarious position that they are in and tries to change.
So what do we need to do?
- Start cutting the chains of the core contract that is binding community pharmacy to oblivion. It is a mind-set – there is no NHS England knight on a white horse with purses of gold to hand out – that is fantasy.
- Look for other sources of income – diversify – or perhaps take a second look at the customers that walk through the pharmacy – that is 1.6m a day – what do they want and what are they willing to pay for – can you provide more of that.
- Look to your colleagues. Community pharmacy needs to talk – the LPCs should lead this, but we desperately need federations that would share some resource locally and work together to cover populations.
- Look to the commissioners (CCG, LA and others). They are needing a different solution to many of their commissioning issues and community pharmacy as a coherent group could offer a solution
That’s it – that is all you have to do.
Come back and tell me when you have a third of your income from NHS core, a third from customers in terms of otc and services and a third commissioned. Then your new business model has safety and security and will survive.