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Scottish government provides £20m pharmacy ‘interim cash injection’

The Scottish government has implemented a £20 million cash injection to “ease pressures” on community pharmacies, the country’s negotiator has said.

The Scottish government will provide an additional £20 million as an “interim cash injection” for community pharmacies, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) announced this afternoon (May 31).

CPS called the additional funding “welcome”, adding that some of its members were resorting to borrowing money “to keep their doors open”.

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

According to the negotiator, the funding will be implemented “over the remainder of 2023/24” to “ease pressures related to medicines price increases” on community pharmacies.

However, CPS said that its “own investigations” indicate that the cash injection is “not sufficient”, as the increase in the cost of common medicines was greater than £20 million.

Read more: New Scottish health secretary appointed as predecessor takes top job

“We have had reports that costs have increased by over three times this amount,” it added, saying that £20 million “represents only 1.74% of the annual medicine spend for Scotland”.

CPS said that negotiations on the new financial settlement “must continue” and that maintaining current service levels and access to healthcare require “a much-improved offer” from Holyrood.

 

Discussions "ongoing"

 

A Scottish government spokesperson said that discussions are "ongoing" with CPS on the 2023/24 financial settlement and that it would be "inappropriate to comment any further at this stage".

They stressed that the funding boost is a recurring increase in the total value of the Scottish Drug Tariff. 

“Community pharmacies are a key point of access to NHS healthcare, providing the right care in the right place from a highly skilled team of healthcare professionals and support staff", the spokesperson said.

They reiterated that the government's "priority is to ensure that patients can access their prescription medicines and services such as NHS Pharmacy First Scotland while balancing our financial obligations”.

 

Hardball at the negotiating table

 

It comes as CPS last week (May 26) revealed that it had rejected the Scottish government’s initial offer for the 2023/24 financial package on behalf of its more than 1,200 community pharmacies.

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”, it told C+D yesterday (May 30).

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

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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