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‘Far short of what is needed’: CPS rejects government's 2023/24 funding offer

Scotland’s community pharmacy negotiator has turned down an initial financial package from Holyrood, it has revealed.

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) revealed on Friday (May 26) that it has rejected a proposed financial package from the Scottish government.

CPS, which represents Scotland’s 1,200 community pharmacies in negotiations on NHS contractual matters including funding, said that its board “unanimously rejected” the “initial offer for [the] 2023/24 financial package” at an “emergency meeting”.

Read more: Nearly £5m increase for Scottish pharmacies in new funding deal

It said that Scottish community pharmacies face “serious financial trouble”, with costs increasing “significantly in the last year”.

 

Imposed funding package?

 

The “protracted” negotiations on the 2023/24 contract, which have been ongoing between the government and CPS since September, have been “largely collaborative” but “departed from the normal process of engagement” in recent months, CPS said.

It added that the funding package that “may be imposed” is “not enough to keep our world-leading services running as they have been”, saying the impact of “insufficient funding” would be “devastating”.

Read more: ‘Massive Achievement’: Pharmacy First service hits 3m consultations

And it said that without “proper funding”, plans to develop the Pharmacy First service in Scotland “would need to be reviewed and our entire offering renegotiated based on the available resource”.

“We need immediate Scottish government intervention to ensure that the Scottish Drug Tariff is bolstered and that there is a financial offer for 2023/24 that enables the continuing success of community pharmacy services in Scotland,” CPS added.

 

“No choice but to reject it”

  

Adam Osprey, policy and development pharmacist at CPS, told C+D that the Scottish government’s first offer “fell so far short of what is needed” to keep Scottish community pharmacies viable that the board “had no choice but to reject it in full”.

While CPS and the Scottish government were meeting today (May 30) as part of “ongoing” talks, he said that CPS did “not expect” the government to meet its expectations.

Read more: Scotland's 'fantastic' Pharmacy First service to expand after hitting 2m consultations

And he added that it was “too early to tell at this moment” whether services like Pharmacy First Scotland were at risk if the sector is not sufficiently funded.

Mr Osprey said that CPS has had “years of mutually respectful negotiations and settlements” with Holyrood, including “investment to support service development”.

But he told C+D that the new offer presented by the government “undermines all of that and puts at risk all we have worked to achieve”.

 

Discussions “ongoing”

 

A spokesperson for the Scottish government told C+D that negotiations with CPS on the financial settlement are “ongoing” and that “it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage”.

But they added that the government’s priority is “balancing” patients’ access to prescription medicines and services like NHS Pharmacy First Scotland with its “financial obligations”.

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie told C+D that it was “concerning” that pharmacies “could close without further support” from Holyrood.

Read more: Pharmacy First Scotland: Contractors to be paid £1,250 a month

“We cannot afford to let that happen," she said, adding that community pharmacies “have struggled” during the cost-of-living crisis, hampering their ability to provide “comprehensive services”.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and Community Pharmacy England (CPE) - formerly known as the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) - on the recently announced package intended to launch Pharmacy First in England are also ongoing.

C+D reported earlier this month (May 9) that Westminster would be investing £645 million over two years to fund pharmacy common ailments scheme in England, among other services.

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