Lawyer: Ensure you claim for everything when it comes to COVID costs
Contractors reclaiming their COVID-19 costs by the August 15 deadline must ensure they claim for “everything” that falls under the criteria, a regulatory lawyer has advised.
Last week (June 28), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced it had accepted a revised and “much improved” offer from the UK government on pharmacy's COVID-19 costs, but the sector would still have to pay back the £370 million advance funding.
As part of the deal, contractors are able to make claims for COVID-19 related costs they incurred between March 2020 and March 2021.
The claims window officially opened on Monday (July 5) and pharmacies now have until August 15 to start claiming for four different categories via the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA).
This includes: additional staff costs due to COVID-19; costs for making your premises COVID-secure; IT and communication costs to support remote working and virtual patient contact due to COVID-19; and closures agreed by NHS England and NHS Improvement.
Pharmacies will receive payment for their COVID-19 costs on October 1.
No set requirements yet
While the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has not set out detailed requirements of the evidence contractors need to provide to support their claims, this “will need careful thought”, PSNC said, as contractors will need to provide documentation within five working days of a request from NHS BSA.
Andrea James, regulatory lawyer and partner at Brabners LLP, stressed the importance of contractors claiming for “everything that falls within the criteria and that they can support with evidence”.
“Claims will be scrutinised and may be reduced by the DH,” she warned.
The government has not placed any specific funding cap on payment claims, however, “the Treasury has indicated it will need to review the total costs of claims made, particularly if there is a significant difference between that figure and the £370m given in advance payments”, PSNC added.
Ms James warned contractors “not to risk participating in ‘double discounting’ by reducing their claims themselves and then experiencing a second reduction from the DH”.
Use this time wisely
Contractors should use the time until the August 15 deadline to collate all their evidence, Ms James added.
“This may include contacting your accountant or IT providers or locum agencies to obtain comparative evidence of your ‘normal’ expenditure in previous years,” she advised.
PSNC will be publishing a series of guides to help contractors submit their claims. Read the FAQs on the PSNC website for more.