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Establishment payments to plummet 20% from December

Establishment payments for pharmacies in England will drop 20% from December, the government has announced.

This will amount to £419 less a month for pharmacies which currently receive the highest monthly payment of £2,092, the Department of Health (DH) said in a document released today (October 20).

The payments will fall by a further 40% on current levels from April 2017 – down to £1,255 a month for these pharmacies, it said.

All community pharmacies which dispense more than 2,500 items a month currently receive an establishment payment, but the DH reaffirmed that these payments will be "phased out" entirely over "a number of years".

The DH's document was timed to coincide with confirmation from pharmacy minister David Mowat that the 12% cut to the global sum would go ahead in December as planned.

Despite the DH telling C+D last week that no final decision had been made on the cut, Mr Mowat laid out the plans in the House of Commons today.

Mr Mowat confirmed the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee's (PSNC) announcement last week that funding would drop by 7.4% on current levels for 2017-18, bringing the global sum down to £2.592bn.

Mr Mowat insisted the government "appreciates the value" of the pharmacy sector. But he stressed the current system does not do enough to "promote efficiency or quality". 

The DH also released an impact assessment of the funding plan today, which confirms “there is no reliable way of estimating the number of pharmacies that may close as a result of this policy”.

PSNC "unanimously" rejected the funding package last week.  

£42m integration fund announced

Following Mr Mowat's announcement, NHS England published details of its promised £42m 'pharmacy integration fund'.

This will support pharmacy to “develop new clinical pharmacy services, working practices and digital platforms”, and result in “more integrated and effective NHS primary care for patients”, it added.

“Wholly unacceptable”

Pharmacy Voice described the government’s plans for significant pharmacy funding cuts as “incoherent, self-defeating and whole unacceptable”.

Chief executive Rob Darracott said the government appears “hell-bent on pressing ahead” with its policy and has “replaced warm words with increasingly aggressive rhetoric. 

The Twitter reaction:

How will you cope with a reduce establishment payment?

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