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Sector bodies urge cutting number of LPCs as review launches

Professor David Wright is leading the independent review of the PSNC and LPCs

In the wake of a pharmacy representation review, three sector bodies have called for a reduction of England’s 69 local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) to save money.

An independent review of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and England’s 69 LPCs has moved into its second phase and pharmacy contractors are invited to have their say between February 1 and 29.

The review, led by David Wright, Professor of pharmacy practice at the University of East Anglia, is designed to “optimise PSNC and LPC contractor representation” to ensure it is “fit for the future”, according to a statement on the Pharmacy Representation Review website.

By the end of March, the team reviewing pharmacy representation will have produced a written report and recommendations for the PSNC to take forward.

CCA: Drop to 38 LPCs

Reducing the number of LPCs from 69 to 38 could save an estimated £2.7 million, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) chief executive Malcolm Harrison told C+D on Wednesday (January 28)

The organisation also called for fewer committee members, with around 7-9 in each regional branch. These changes could release £2.7m of the “operational cost” of running the network, Mr Harrison said.

The CCA is “confident that fewer, stronger, local teams” with “improved coordination and support” would be better placed to support contractors, he added.

Mr Harrison said the organisation is “concerned” that PSNC is “not currently resourced” to mitigate the financial risk to contractors of the five-year funding settlement.

The current network of LPCs contains “significant and unjustifiable variation and duplication in terms of remit, cost and value”, he added.

AIMp: “Sensible way forward”

Bringing the number of LPCs down to “approximately 45 to be in line with the current number of sustainability and transformation partnerships” would be a “sensible way forward” that would also “provide savings”, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) said in a statement on Tuesday (January 27).

AIMp also called for “clear lines of accountability” to be set and suggested that a proportion of savings made from cutting the number of LPCs could be used to “create regional forums” that “provide robust local innovation and representation”.

The organisation said it is "in support of the current PSNC activities and structure to be under review with the goal to refocus their activity on effective negotiation and support provision." 

NPA: Magic happens locally

Echoing AIMp’s view, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has recommended that the network of LPCs is “streamlined to better align with NHS structures”.

The PSNC should “reform” its mandate, “invest in local leadership” and “pilot any changes”, it said in a statement today (January 30).

The current distribution of LPCs “does not completely reflect the geography of current or emerging NHS structures”, it added.

However, the NPA emphasised that community pharmacy “needs more support” at a local level and said “local is where the magic happens”.

“Any reduction in the number of LPCs should not equate to a reduction in local capacity,” it warned.

The PSNC should “focus on its core duties”, in particular the negotiation of the community pharmacy contractual framework, the NPA added.

The independent review team is “seeking views on LPC and PSNC structures, support, representation, communication and governance” from as many contractors as possible.

Contractors can respond to the review through the team’s survey until February 29.

Should there be a reduction in the number of LPCs?

How High?, Community pharmacist

I've always wondered what LPCs actually contribute.

Contract negotiated centrally by PSNC regardless of how effective you think they are.

Locally though what do we get? A few CCA reps who change every other week and a few local contractors who've been on forever. What advantage does this bring?

I'd sooner see the levy used to fund a proper high powered negotiating team with the nerve to take on the DoH where the metal hits the meat.

Maybe if there's any left over also fund some national advertising to raise the profile of what's happening and explain why we can't do every damned thing at a loss.

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