News

Media and Political Bulletin – 27 August 2020

Media and Political Bulletin

27 August 2020

Media Summary

CEOs make government Brexit deal plea after Covid cash squeeze curbs stockpiling

Evening Standard, Alex Lawson, 26 August 2020

The Evening Standard reports that industry bosses have called on Government to agree a post-Brexit deal, warning that the cash crunch caused by coronavirus had left businesses unable to stockpile, with talks between the UK and EU having stalled last week. The next round of negotiations kicks off on September 7th, with October the deadline for an agreement to be ratified before the end of the transition period this year.

David Watson, ABPI’s interim executive director for commercial policy, said the industry needed support from Government to plan an end to the transition period, after months of strain to ensure drugs to treat Covid patients were still available.

He said: “Detailed guidance is still urgently required from Government on issues like freight capacity, ferry routes and the Northern Ireland Protocol. Coronavirus has only strengthened our belief that the best possible outcome is for both sides to reach a deal that includes an MRA to protect patients and public health.”

The pharmaceutical industry has called for negotiators to seek a Mutual Recognition Agreement – which would see both sides accept each other’s drug safety testing and inspections before export –in order to avoid duplication, supply chain disruption or delays to patient access to medicine.

PSNC asks government for ‘urgent uplift’ in pharmacy funding

P3 Pharmacy, Pharmacy Magazine, 26 August 2020

P3 Pharmacy reports that the PSNC has said it has put the case to health minister Jo Churchill for “an urgent uplift” in funding for the community pharmacy contractual framework.

“(This) has been an extremely challenging year for community pharmacies. They have done an incredible job in meeting the increasing health needs of their patients [..] but the financial toll that this tremendous effort has taken on pharmacy businesses of all shapes and sizes is now being felt, and PSNC’s job is to make that case effectively to (the) government,” said PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes.

“Now that the initial health emergency has passed, all PSNC Committee Members are focused on the financial emergency facing their businesses.”

Mr Dukes said the PSNC had given the government “comprehensive data” on the cost of the pandemic to pharmacies and said the £370m in advance funding given to pharmacies in England during the outbreak should be written off.

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

CEOs make government Brexit deal plea after Covid cash squeeze curbs stockpiling

Evening Standard, Alex Lawson, 26 August 2020

Industry bosses today called on Government to thrash out a post-Brexit deal, warning that the cash crunch caused by coronavirus had left businesses unable to stockpile.

Manufacturers, retailers and their suppliers are facing the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, but without the firepower to stockpile to ensure goods continue to flow as they did last year before an anticipated cliff-edge Brexit.

Talks between the UK and EU stalled last week. The next round of negotiations kicks off on September 7 with October the deadline for an agreement to be ratified before the end of the transition period this year.

The ADS, which represents more than 1100 UK businesses operating in the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors, warned a “disruptive Brexit is an unwelcome additional challenge” to a sector thrown into crisis by the grounding of the aviation industry in lockdown.

ADS chief executive Paul Everitt said: “Supply chain companies across the UK are focused on survival and the crisis has put severe pressure on cashflow, restricting their ability to rebuild the stockpiles that were their primary mitigation measure.

“It is important that the Government and the EU work to reach a deal that avoids any further damage. A no-deal Brexit would cause industry in the UK and in Europe further damage.”

Retailers could also be squeezed, as the Covid outbreak has deterred shoppers from physical stores, and ratcheted up demand for warehouse space to service online customers.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers continue to face unprecedented challenges after months of store closures, slow sales and increased costs. As the end of the transition period draws closer, retailers are working incredibly hard to mitigate the disruption that is likely to arise from leaving the EU single market.

“However, with retailers focused on preparing for the all-important golden quarter, warehouses will be at full capacity in the run up to Christmas leaving little room to build up additional supplies ahead of the 1st January. A no-deal Brexit at the end of the year would result in price increases from tariffs and reduced consumer choice.”

The issue is likely to affect any industry with “just in time” speedy supply chains. The Food and Drink Federation has said suppliers impacted by the closure of the hospitality industry may struggle if they don’t have the cash to stockpile short shelf-life ingredients or finished products.

Security of supply of medicines has been a key issue for Government, and this month Steve Oldfield, chief commercial officer at the Department of Health wrote to suppliers asking them to “stockpile to a target level of six weeks’ total stock on UK soil”.

David Watson, ABPI’s interim executive director for commercial policy, said the industry needed support from Government to plan an end to the transition period, after months of strain to ensure drugs to treat Covid patients were still available.

He added: “Detailed guidance is still urgently required from Government on issues like freight capacity, ferry routes and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“Coronavirus has only strengthened our belief that the best possible outcome is for both sides to reach a deal that includes an MRA to protect patients and public health.”

The pharmaceutical industry has called for negotiators to seek a Mutual Recognition Agreement – which would see both sides accept each other’s drug safety testing and inspections before export–in order to avoid duplication, supply chain disruption or delays to patient access to medicine.

PSNC asks government for ‘urgent uplift’ in pharmacy funding

P3 Pharmacy, Pharmacy Magazine, 26 August 2020

The PSNC has said it has put the case to health minister Jo Churchill for “an urgent uplift” in funding for the community pharmacy contractual framework.

While talks are ongoing with the Government over funding and services, the negotiator announced today that it has told Churchill, whose health brief includes community pharmacy, that the five-year deal needed to contain more money.

The agreement was struck in July last year and saw funding frozen at £2.592bn annually from 2019-20 to 2023-24.

The PSNC also said talks have begun on contractors’ remuneration for costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic and revealed a hepatitis C testing service was “imminent” while it was expected that the discharge medicines service will start in January.

Details on the 2020-21 flu vaccination service have not yet been released but the PSNC said those should be published before the service commences on Tuesday.

The PSNC also said discussions on extending referrals to the community pharmacy consultation service from GP practices have resumed after talks were interrupted by the pandemic.

“(This) has been an extremely challenging year for community pharmacies. They have done an incredible job in meeting the increasing health needs of their patients and providing a walk-in clinical advice service for their local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as helping people in need, this has supported other primary care and NHS services during a critical time,” said PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes.

“But the financial toll that this tremendous effort has taken on pharmacy businesses of all shapes and sizes is now being felt, and PSNC’s job is to make that case effectively to (the) government.

“As contractors and LPCs know, during the initial pandemic peak in the UK, PSNC was working round the clock to finalise new services and arrangements that supported contractors through the lockdown period – emergency funding injections, flexibility in opening hours, and a new national delivery service were some of the key outputs from the negotiations at that time.

“Now that the initial health emergency has passed, all PSNC Committee Members are focused on the financial emergency facing their businesses.”

Mr Dukes said the PSNC had given the government “comprehensive data” on the cost of the pandemic to pharmacies and said £370m in advance funding given to pharmacies in England during the outbreak should be written off.

“Although ministers have heaped praise on the sector throughout the pandemic, many officials still question the value of pharmacies and this is what PSNC and others are working hard to convince them of,” Mr Dukes said.

“We are also increasingly working alongside our GP negotiating colleagues to share leverage where we can. I know that it is incredibly frustrating for contractors as they await the outcomes of these business critical conversations, but do not mistake a failure to make fast agreements for a lack of activity.

“We have been and will continue to do all that is needed to battle for the best deals and for fair treatment of community pharmacies at every stage.

“If that means rejecting offer after offer from (the) government and doing all that we can to reach a satisfactory position on every single negotiating point, then that is what we will keep doing.”

Media and Political Bulletin – 27 August 2020

From Factory to Pharmacy

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