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'Short-term' 15p advance payment increase 'simply not enough'

The pharmacy minister’s decision to increase advance payments by 15p-per-item for one month only "simply won't be enough" for many businesses, sector leaders have warned.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced yesterday (October 23) that pharmacy minister Steve Brine has agreed to an “unprecedented” 15p-per-item increase in advance payments next month.

Mr Brine was responding to the “extraordinary cashflow challenges” facing contractors – highlighted to the government by PSNC – and agreed to the “urgent measure” for November alone, it said.

While Numark welcomed the decision to “offer contractors some relief”, managing director John D’Arcy described the increase as a “short-term cashflow stop-gap” that “simply won’t be enough in many cases”.

The support group “remains concerned” that “this new measure will not be enough to ease the significant threat to viability facing many pharmacies”, he said.

“The fact that the government now seeks to partially 'prop up' pharmacy is a clear indication that the [funding] cuts [in England] were ill-conceived and damaging,” Mr D’Arcy told C+D.

“It also underlines the uncertainties associated with a system of remuneration and reimbursement that is both anachronistic and opaque.”

It is “simply not sensible for the NHS pharmacy service to be mismanaged like this”, he stressed.

“Short-term” fix

Avicenna CEO Salim Jetha branded the 15p-per-item increase a “short-term” fix for the ongoing funding pressures pharmacists in England are facing.

“This 15p increase is not new money,” Mr Jetha told C+D at the support group's conference in Vietnam today (October 24). “[The government] is just lending us money, only to recoup it in the next few months.”

Watch the video below to see Mr Jetha call for “new investment” in the pharmacy sector.

“Worrying” long-term trend

Kevin Barron, Labour MP for Rother Valley and all-party pharmacy group (APPG) chair, tweeted yesterday that while he was "glad the minister has announced some short-term funding", the “huge cashflow issues” will continue because of the ongoing pharmacy funding cuts in England.

Will this 15p payment rise help your pharmacy cope?

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