Community Pharmacy England met in London for a full Committee Meeting on 22nd and 23rd November 2023. Committee Members spent time discussing important matters such as the implementation of Pharmacy First and their core asks for the future Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF), informed by sector polling.

The packed two-day meeting agenda included action planning for the short, medium and longer-term. First and foremost, the Committee heard about and helped feed into all the work that the Community Pharmacy England team is planning to help guide pharmacy owners and their teams on this journey, including the development of a series of webinars. Just as important was the consideration of core asks, priorities and red lines for Community Pharmacy England to take into the upcoming negotiations on the 2024/25 CPCF shaped by our recent polling of pharmacy owners as well as Committee Members’ own experiences.

Ahead of the November Committee Meeting, we sought pharmacy owners’ thoughts about the future role(s) for their pharmacies and their preparedness for the winter season. Committee Members reviewed and reflected on the opinions received directly from pharmacy owners, and were particularly interested in the impact of the ongoing pressures as we head into the winter season. It was suggested that these figures could perhaps be used alongside pharmacy closures data to help raise awareness of the plight of the sector. The polling results are already being used in media statements and when briefing MPs, with further national press and advocacy work being planned. The data will also be beneficial in providing further evidence for use in negotiations and ongoing influencing work. See the results of the opinion polling below:

Briefing 038/23: What pharmacy owners told us in November 2023

The Committee also received a comprehensive update on Community Pharmacy England’s influencing and advocacy work, describing the work already undertaken to engage with the new Health Secretary as well as the considerable efforts being undertaken to increase and widen our stakeholder outreach, particularly around the Vision for Community Pharmacy and Recovery Plan Deal announcement. This ongoing influencing programme feeds into our continued work to develop a strategy for Community Pharmacy England. At November’s meeting Committee Members identified the overarching ambitions for the sector and accompanying goals for the organisation over the next few years, building on a strategy workshop facilitated by PR agency Luther Pendragon. Read our full meeting summary below:

Briefing 039/23: Summary of November 2023 Committee Meeting

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England, said:

“The Recovery Plan deal is a huge confidence boost for the sector, and we have been delighted to hear the positivity about it from so many pharmacy owners across the sector. But we know there is now a huge amount of information to absorb and implementation, especially over winter, will be extremely challenging. We do not underestimate the operational challenges and hard work that it will entail. We will all need to work together to make it a success and the team at Community Pharmacy England are keen to support pharmacy owners and their teams on this journey. There is already a lot of work going on to support the launch during this period – service specifications have been agreed, the tripartite implementation group has begun its work, and we’re busy updating resources and organising webinars.

Alongside this, we hope to be back in the negotiating room soon to start discussing what the CPCF will look like from April 2024. We have been clear that the £645m is not the panacea to reverse all of the pressures on pharmacy businesses and the sector needs an uplift to core funding. We continue to press for further investment through our influencing and programme and building on the essential role of community pharmacy through a national Pharmacy First service helps strengthen our case, and the imperative for, sustainable funding in future.”

Further agenda items

Continuing our work to improve Community Pharmacy England’s governance arrangements, independent governance expert Victoria Finney gathered feedback from the Committee on the latest changes made to core governance documents, and the Committee unanimously agreed a revised constitution to reflect enhancements as part of the Governance Review. It was agreed that a working group of Committee Members will consider potential options for how the Negotiating Team operates in more detail, with an aim to draw up a draft terms of reference before bringing this back to the Committee.

The Committee also considered a DHSC proposal to take the principle of Original Pack Dispensing, as one of the efficiency reforms agreed as part of the five-year CPCF, forward. Committee Members were particularly keen to avoid extra burden on pharmacy owners whilst also minimising any risk to payments.

Meeting outputs

Outputs from November’s Committee Meeting are linked to below.

Briefing 038/23: What pharmacy owners told us in November 2023
This briefing outlines the results of the opinion polls conducted ahead of our November Committee Meeting, and how we are using the data.

Briefing 039/23: Summary of November 2023 Committee Meeting
This briefing provides more detail on the discussions our Committee had, including information from our subcommittee meetings and next steps.

Video Blog: Key highlights from our November 2023 Committee Meeting
This video blog from Gary Warner, Community Pharmacy England Regional Representative for the South East and independent pharmacy owner, provides an alternative way to find out more about our latest Committee Meeting.

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