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COVID-19: English pharmacies to receive £300m in “advance funding”

Community pharmacies in England will receive £300 million in “advance funding” over the next two months to alleviate cashflow issues caused by COVID-19, the PSNC has announced.

The total sum will be “paid as uplifts to contractors’ January and February payments” – payable in April and May.

The £300m is not new money for the sector and will have to be “reconciled at a later date”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced today (March 31).

The advance funding is “recognition of the significant cashflow pressures facing the sector at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic”, it said.

There will be two cash injections, with the first payment of £200m made on or around April 1. The second payment, of £100m, will be made at the end of April or early May, the PSNC added.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) is “working to recalculate payments”, with the intention that the initial £200m will be paid alongside the planned April 1 payment.

The PSNC said it is “in ongoing discussions about the need for more funding for the sector” to help contractors with costs arising from “increasing prescription numbers, staffing costs, one-off costs and rising drugs bills” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While this funding injection is a step in the right direction, PSNC has told HM Government that it is not sufficient to cover contractors’ rising costs and to help them to manage the new pressures on their businesses,” the negotiator added.

“Funding gesture is not enough”

Although the organisation “welcomes” the intention of the forward payment, the “funding gesture alone is not enough”, PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes commented.

The negotiator has informed the 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”, he said.

“Community pharmacy is at a critical point, with pharmacy teams and businesses under extreme pressure and many pharmacies now not financially viable,” Mr Dukes added.

The PSNC and other pharmacy bodies are trying to “persuade” the government of the “very urgent need for further emergency funding support”, he said.

What do you make of the new funding arrangement?

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