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NHS finances: All Bets Are Off

Posted on: 28 Jul 09


Ahead of the NHS Confederation Conference last month, David Nicholson, Chief Executive of NHS pulled no punches with his assessment of NHS finances.
Ahead of the NHS Confederation Conference last month, David Nicholson, Chief Executive of NHS pulled no punches with his assessment of NHS finances. He stated that the NHS would need to find £15-20 billion over the next three years; and that ‘all bets were off’ as to where that money might come from. Well respected NHS senior managers like Mike Farrar, Chief Executive at North West Strategic Health Authority are singing a similarly radical tune. Describing the financial crisis about to beset the whole service, Dr Farrar predicted that the NHS would need to embrace and invest in new technology much faster and think radically differently about how services are provided. Medicines are a technology in their own right; one that can impact significantly on the cost of care if used appropriately. Yet, this month in the Health Service Journal, Andy McKeon, Managing Director Health at The Audit Commission singled medicines out as an area where the NHS could be looking to for savings. Spurred on by the impact of recent changes in PPRS, he feels the drugs bill cannot be immune to consideration, and advocates further price cuts. There is also spreading acknowledgement that in the face of the need for such savings, the NHS’s ability to deliver on its NHS Charter promise to make available all NICE approved therapies to all those who require them may to be unsustainable; something that the Government’s political opponents are bound to use to their advantage in the run up to a general election. For pharma companies reviewing the impact of the financial crisis on NHS marketing, the message is clear. If you have the right data to prove the point, you need to harness all your resources and drive home the message to commissioners that prescribing your products in an investment that reaps economic benefits for the whole system. And you need to do it now; next year will be too late, and once budgets are set, it will be extremely hard to change them. That is a story that PDC Healthcare can help you to tell commissioners. We are skilled in working with medicines management teams to help them make the business case for investment in innovative medicines; and can help you to communicate with PCTs to ensure your products value proposition is considered when budget cuts hit home . Call us on 01530 459761

PCO access A growing number of PCOs now have a policy in place to ban their staff from interaction with pharma sales and marketing personnel. While we have seen anti-industry policies in the past, these new initiatives have teeth and in some PCOs, the staff are genuinely scared. Why is there so little value being placed on industry interaction by PCOs? Many quote the reason for this as having proof that such interaction has no value. In writing many PCOs cite that there may be a conflict of interest as the PCO has to prioritise local delivery of care within budget and the pharmaceutical company must deliver for its shareholders. In discussion the PCO staff relate incidents of feeling uneasy with Representatives. Is this due to the organisational pressures - the PCO guidance or is it due to the Pharma Company? Definitely a topic for debate. Even willing customers are finding it more difficult to justify seeing Representatives. Example guidance to staff includes
• Meeting with representatives could be a disciplinary matter
• Meetings with representatives should only be in exceptional circumstances.
• If a topic is of interest, staff should ask for information to be sent to them. They should critically evaluate the information sent and not rely on it as their sole source of information.
The prescribing managers are being trained to enhance their ability to influence prescribing. Understandably, they want to ensure that messages which contradict their guidance should not be delivered. In particular they wish to protect non medical prescribers from industry influence.
Furthermore, where the pharma messages are aligned with those of the prescribing managers, there is great reluctance to associate the guidance with a pharmaceutical company.
Many PCOs have a guidance document for working in partnership with pharma. These make interesting reading. Not just for the guidance but the insight it provides into the beliefs, values and attitudes of the PCO in the context of the pharmaceutical industry. It is worth getting a copy from your target PCOs. This will ensure you are sensitive to local guidance when with your customers.
The question is how can each particular Representative add value and ensure that value is recognised so that they become valued? Seeing your customer is not the only solution. How else could pharma interact? It might be via a peer or in writing. It is more important than ever to target your communication and align it with the customer’s remits and responsibilities to allow them to make best use of their time. The recent ‘flu pandemic has taken priority for many of your PCO customers, leaving previous priorities neglected and leaving negligible time to see Representatives. PDC has provided support in set up and manning of antiviral collection points and has been helping to reduce the day to day workload through provision of flexible outsourced help. We also help to get the neglected priorities back on track. We assure you that when your customers cite the ‘flu pandemic as a reason why they are too busy to see you, they are definitely telling you the truth. They have never been so busy or pressurised. PDC Healthcare has access to the vast majority of PCOs. This is because we offer them trusted, useful, well researched and efficient interaction. We will never abuse this trust. Our mission is to optimise healthcare for patients. If you have a message that is of real value and relevance to your PCO customers, we will be delighted to see if we can help you deliver it in alignment with the needs of those customers. Call Miriam George, Managing Director, now on 01530 459761 for the most cost effective solutions.

Miriam George

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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