In an attempt to address community pharmacy cash flow issues that contractors in England are facing due to COVID-19, a total uplift of £50 million will be made to contractors’ ‘advance payments’ on 1st June.
The calculation of the uplift for an individual pharmacy contractor is equal to the percentage uplift when £50 million is added to the total of April’s advance payments (calculated as per usual arrangement).
Pharmacy contractors should note that this uplift will not show on their schedule of payment but the NHSBSA will be sending a letter to each contractor outlining their uplift.
This uplift similarly to the £300 million uplift made in previous months 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).
*different arrangements will apply for pharmacies opening in May. Pharmacies, which closed in May, will not receive this uplift.
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:
“Since March PSNC has been highlighting to HM Government both the significant cashflow problems facing community pharmacy contractors and the urgent need for more investment in the sector to cover COVID-19-related costs. Our requests for cashflow assistance have once again led to a cash injection and, combined with the £15m increase in medicines prices in June, this should help to ease some of the immediate cash flow and procurement pressures on businesses.
“In addition, our funding bid to cover the unprecedented costs that contractors are currently facing is now with HM Treasury, and while it is frustrating that these negotiations are taking some time, we are continuing to press for answers.
“We do not know how this pandemic will develop and the long-term effects it will have on pharmacy, but we will continue to gather evidence of contractors’ costs and other financial pressures and to press for margin adjustments and further financial assistance wherever we have a case to do so.”
NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said:
“It is now more urgent than ever that the government fulfils commitments to repay all the extra costs incurred by pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today’s announcement make talks on cost recovery even more urgent. We need assurances on the medium-term position because this new advance effectively increases the level of pharmacies’ debt to government. Many independent pharmacies will struggle to pay it back and should never be asked to do so.
“This advance will make it easier for our members to pay their bills, for now, and to keep vital services going. But it isn’t new money and doesn’t get to the root of the funding problems.
“Pharmacists are bearing a heavy financial burden in order to keep people safe and well. As caring health care professionals, pharmacists have kept their doors open, often at considerable personal cost. They have done this trusting that the Health Secretary will make good on his pledge to strain every sinew to support pharmacies.”
Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board Chair Claire Anderson said:
“Pharmacy teams continue to work tirelessly to support patients, the Government and the NHS during the COVID-19 crisis.
“While this funding may help pharmacies stay open to provide vital services and healthcare advice to the public, it’s another stop-gap measure and should be coming from new money, rather than an advance payment. The Government should review this as part of a fair funding settlement for the longer-term.
“The ‘new normal’ for the NHS coping with COVID-19 will need a contract which makes the most of pharmacists’ clinical skills to support patients, improve medicines safety, and help people stay healthy and out of hospital.
“The NHS and Government now need to back pharmacy and build on the incredible work the profession during COVID-19 to support patient care.”