The Department of Health (DH) had included 16 pharmacies “in error” in its original list of 1,356 businesses which will receive top-up funding under the Pharmacy Access Scheme, it confirmed to C+D yesterday (November 9).
The scheme is designed to protect pharmacies which are situated a mile or more from another pharmacy by road from the “full effect” of the cuts – as long as they are not in the top 25% best-performing businesses according to dispensing volume.
The DH did not reveal the names of the pharmacies – which it removed from the list on November 3 – but said it is informing them that they have been taken off the list.
These consisted of "local pharmaceutical services" pharmacies – which have separate contractual arrangements to community pharmacy– and distance-selling pharmacies, which the DH confirmed are not eligible for the scheme.
“Patients do not access services from distance-selling pharmacies in the same way as they do from bricks-and-mortar pharmacies – ie they do not physically travel to distance-selling pharmacies to receive services,” the DH said.
The DH will not be conducting any further "validation exercises" to check that the pharmacies remaining on the list deserve to be there, it stressed.
You can view the updated list of pharmacies eligible for the scheme here.
Do you deserve the funding?
The DH has introduced a “near miss” process to review pharmacies that did not initially qualify for the Pharmacy Access Scheme, but are affected by factors that could limit patient access.
It will also take into account any inaccuracies it made in calculating which pharmacies qualified for the access scheme, as well as pharmacies in particularly deprived areas that almost qualified for it. The latter group will cover pharmacies in the 20% most deprived areas of England, which are situated 0.8 miles from another pharmacy.
The DH told C+D yesterday that these reviews will be “handled on a case-by-case basis as they arrive”. However, it would not confirm how many applications for reviews it had received so far.
These pharmacies will each receive an average of £2,900 per month between December 2016 and March 2017, and £1,500 per month between April 2017 and March 2018. The DH will consider whether or not to provide further funding beyond this date.