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PSNC: Funding talks have begun, but no deal until COVID costs sorted

Negotiations on the 2021/22 pharmacy funding contract in England have begun, but no agreement can be reached without clarity on COVID costs, PSNC has stressed.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced this afternoon (April 28) that it has entered negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) on the third year of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).

The negotiations on the arrangements for 2021/22 – which have started later than expected due to “the volume of urgent COVID-19 work which has been prioritised” by the government – will look at “services, funding and other arrangements for pharmacies”, PSNC announced.

At the same time, PSNC continues to negotiate for additional funding to reflect the impact of COVID-19 on contractors.

PSNC CEO Simon Dukes said he does not expect the negotiations on arrangements for 2021/22 “to be any easier” than the ongoing COVID-19 talks.

PSNC rejected the DH and HM Treasury’s COVID offer last summer for being “too limited” and said it has yet to receive an answer to a bid for a “broader funding uplift” it submitted in the autumn.

The PSNC negotiating committee has also “made clear” to the government “that while we will now commence negotiations, it is unlikely to be able to make any final decision on the CPCF until we have clarity on COVID costs”.

“Resolving these costs has been urgent for many months, and contractors’ questions must be answered and a satisfactory deal reached before we can move any further forwards on other matters,” Mr Dukes said.

“The PSNC committee is deeply concerned about the lack of resolution on COVID costs and they are worried about workload and finances in the year ahead: we will do all that we can to make this as manageable as possible for contractors,” he added.

PSNC is unable to share further details on the negotiations due to government “confidentiality rules”, it said.

Mr Dukes thanked contractors for the data they fed back to the negotiator to inform the discussions with the DH.

“We have an amazing story to tell about how community pharmacy has supported both patients and the NHS throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: [the government] must listen to this, recognise it, and it must pay contractors fairly for it,” Mr Dukes concluded.

PSNC claimed in February that the Treasury was refusing to budge on its original funding offer for the sector.

How has your pharmacy coped during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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