An uplift of £300 million in total over the next two months will be made to English community pharmacy contractors’ ‘advance payments’.
This uplift is not additional funding over and above what was agreed for 2020/21 under the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework 5-year deal. The uplift will be reconciled in 2020/21. However, the mechanism and the time period over which reconciliation will take place has not yet been agreed with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).
The first, of £200million will give the average pharmacy contractor a circa 26% uplift in their 1 April payment* and the second of £100 million will give the average pharmacy a circa 13% uplift in their 1 May payment. **
The move comes after PSNC has been in urgent negotiations with Ministers and the NHS for a number of weeks, making the case for urgent cash flow assistance to help contractors this month. Representatives at PSNC have said there are also ongoing discussions about the need for more funding for the sector to recognise increasing costs arising from factors such as increasing prescription numbers, staffing costs, one-off costs and rising drugs bills, all resulting from the pandemic.
PSNC commented that while this funding injection is a step in the right direction, they have told Government ministers that it is not sufficient to cover contractors’ rising costs or to help them to manage the new pressures on their businesses.
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:
“In negotiations over the past month, we have made clear to HM Government that community pharmacy is at a critical point, with pharmacy teams and businesses under extreme pressure and many pharmacies now not financially viable.
“We welcome the intention of this cash injection, and in particular Ministers’ recognition of the impressive way in which pharmacies are rising to the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. But this funding gesture alone is not enough: we have informed HM Government that it simply will not be sufficient to help many contractors to meet the rapidly increasing costs that they are facing as a result of this pandemic.
“We are continuing our dialogue with the Minister, with officials and with the NHS, and in the coming days we and the other national pharmacy organisations will be putting yet more evidence to them, trying to persuade them of the very urgent need for further emergency funding support, over and above the agreed global sum of £2.592 billion, for this vital part of the NHS.”
Responding to the news that the Government will provide an extra £300m to community pharmacies over the next two months to assist with the COVID-19 crisis, Chair of RPS in England Professor Claire Anderson said:
“This is a welcome step in the right direction for pharmacies facing immediate cash flow concerns but should have come from new money. With rising costs, this will not yet be enough to support those pharmacy teams working hard on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we await further details on the proposed medicines delivery service, we must also see fair funding in the longer-term to help pharmacies keep their doors open to the public.
“Alongside this we are seeking further clarifications on how government protects all pharmacy teams, including pharmacists and support staff, to have appropriate access to PPE and timely testing for COVID-19 so they can continue looking after patients.
“In the face of growing pressures, we’d also look for an easing of the administrative burden, including stopping the management of prescription charges, as well as equal access to occupational health support for all staff.”
*different arrangements will apply for pharmacies opening and closing in March. ** different arrangements will apply for pharmacies opening and closing in April.
COVID-19 – Uplift to pharmacy contractors’ payment on 1 April and on 1 May: NHSBSA Copyright 2020. This information is licenced under the terms of the Open Government Licence.