160 Boots and 130 Lloydspharmacies among those eligible for monthly funding top-ups
More than a quarter of the pharmacies eligible for monthly funding top-ups under the revised PhAS belong to the four biggest multiples, however, a new payment scheme is designed to “encourage growth for smaller pharmacies”.
A total of 1,405 pharmacies in England are eligible to receive up to £17,500 a year under the revised Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS), which was announced alongside the outcome of negotiations for year three of the community pharmacy contractual framework.
The PhAS was originally introduced in December 2016 to protect pharmacies “where patient and public access would be materially affected should they close”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) said in guidance published alongside the list of eligible pharmacies today (August 27).
Of the 1,405 pharmacies, 160 Boots branches, 130 Lloydspharmacy branches, 66 Well pharmacies and 53 Rowlands pharmacies will benefit from monthly funds, representing 29% of the total number of eligible pharmacies.
A total of 56 Tesco pharmacies and 45 Day Lewis branches also made the list.
Distance-selling pharmacies, local pharmaceutical services contractors and dispensing doctors remain ineligible for the scheme.
The full list can be accessed here.
Eligibility for PhAS continues to be based on both the dispensing volume of the pharmacy and distance from the next nearest pharmacy, the DH outlined, and once again, pharmacies do not need to apply for the scheme.
In a change to the 2016 scheme, “distances between pharmacies for the 2021 to 2022 PhAS have been measured by road distance rather than as the crow flies and are therefore more representative of patient walking journeys,” the DH said.
The former “near-miss” pharmacies – those in very deprived areas (top 20% of the Index of Multiple Deprivation) that are more than 0.8 of a mile from the next nearest pharmacy – are now automatically eligible, rather than having to apply for a review.
However, those pharmacies that successfully applied for a review under the 2016 scheme are not automatically eligible in this revised PhAS and will need to reapply, the DH added.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) explained that there will be a similar review scheme open to contractors from January 2022, for those who wish to dispute the accuracy of the distance calculation.
The key points of the revised PhAS
To be eligible, a pharmacy must:
• be on the pharmaceutical list on March 31, 2021
• be more than one mile from the next nearest pharmacy, or if in the most deprived areas (IMD decile 1-2) more that 0.8 of a mile away
• have received at least 1,200 single activity fees (SAFs) and not more than 104,789 SAFs in 2019/20
• be registered on the Manage Your Service (MYS) to provide the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) by December 31 2021 (and continue to be registered to be eligible for payments)
• be in premises that are directly accessible to the public (i.e not with restricted access such as beyond airport security).
A new payment model has been developed for the revised PhAS, the DH said, “to encourage growth for smaller pharmacies and minimise reliance on this additional support for larger pharmacies that are able to remain viable through the provision of NHS pharmaceutical services”.
Rather than a “top-up” for the 2015 sector-wide funding cut, payments are now based on a bell curve distribution, with, for example, larger volume dispensing pharmacies receiving lower PhAS payments.
PSNC explained that this means payments for smaller pharmacies (based on dispensing volume) will increase with activity up to a maximum payment of £17,500 per year. Meanwhile, for larger pharmacies, payments will decrease as volume increases as the support they are considered to require reduces.
“Previously, larger pharmacies usually received larger PhAS payments,” it added.
The top 30% of pharmacies by dispensing volume are not eligible for the revised PhAS, the DH explained, “as larger businesses have the ability to remain viable without this additional support”.
Contractors eligible for PhAS should receive a letter in "the summer" with login details for the online portal to review the details of their mapping analysis and distance determination for their premises, the DH said.