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Contractors earned over £20m in service fees in first 5 months of Pharmacy Collect

More than £20m was paid to community pharmacy owners in England who submitted their claims for COVID-19 lateral flow test kit transactions in the first five months of the Pharmacy Collect service, C+D can reveal.

The NHS community pharmacy COVID-19 lateral flow device distribution service – also known as Pharmacy Collect – was added to the NHS Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework at the end of March 2021.

Between April 2021 and August 2021, contractors who were signed up to provide the service submitted a total of 11,536,784 service fee transaction claims to the NHS Business Service Authority (NHS BSA), the organisation said in response to a freedom of information (FOI) request by C+D.

This amounts to a total of £20,766,211.20 in service fees paid to contractors for transactions completed in the first five months of Pharmacy Collect, the data revealed.

Around 97% of pharmacies in England were offering the advanced service as of September, according to NHS Test and Trace.

Funding for the service comes from outside the pharmacy global sum. In the first six months of Pharmacy Collect, the service fee was set at £1.50 plus an allowance for VAT for each transaction.

In the first month of the service, contractors were paid almost £2.5m (£2,491,565.40) in service fees. This rose to £3,941,937 in May 2021.

About a quarter (£5,794,106.40) of the total service fee cost was claimed by contractors in July 2021 alone, when they submitted 3,218,948 transactions for the service fee.


Contractors paid over £3m in set-up fees


Contractors who signed up to the service by April 18 were also entitled to a £200 “early sign-up fee”, plus VAT.

This was on top of a one-off set-up fee of £250, plus VAT, to cover the costs of creating a new standard operating procedure, training staff and storing the test kits.

The FOI response revealed that £3,304,800 was paid to contractors in set-up fees between March and August.

Eligible contractors were also paid £2,564,640 in March and April for the £200 early sign-up fee.

Commenting on the FOI results, Rosie Taylor, head of service development at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, community pharmacies have done all that they can to support their local communities, and this was evidenced yet again by the huge numbers of pharmacies who were quick to sign up to the COVID-19 lateral flow device distribution service.”

She added: “This was despite the many other pressures and priorities for pharmacy businesses at the time. Distributing COVID-19 test kits is a great way for the accessibility of community pharmacies to be used to help the nation’s COVID-19 recovery effort, allowing pharmacies to offer yet another key public health service.”


Revised Pharmacy Collect service


In September, NHS Test and Trace published an updated service specification announcing that the NHS community pharmacy COVID-19 lateral flow device distribution service would end on September 30, making way for a revised service for pharmacies in England from October 4

Under the revised service, people must ring 119 or register on the government’s website for a 16-digit code, which the pharmacy contractor “must” ask for and record before handing over the lateral flow test kits.

Pharmacy contractors also now receive £1.70, plus VAT, per transaction when a collect code is used.

In September, a COVID-19 test kit distribution service launched across 420 pharmacies in Northern Ireland. While Scotland launched its own Pharmacy Collect service in June, with Wales following in early July.


Does your pharmacy offer the Pharmacy Collect service?

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