The Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) was introduced in December 2016 and is designed to protect pharmacies in England 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.
Last October, the Department of Health (DH) introduced a “near miss” process to review pharmacies that did not initially qualify for the scheme, but are affected by factors that could limit patient access.
NHS England began accepting applications from contractors in November and said it would aim to complete a review within six weeks.
The review process “has now concluded” and 71 of the 370 applications have be found “eligible” for PhAS funding so far, NHS England told C+D yesterday (June 12) – 35% of those eligible for review.
Of the applicants, 171 have already received a letter confirming the outcome of their application, the "majority" of which were "not eligible", NHS England said.
Fifteen applicants are yet to receive final confirmation, but will be informed by the end of June, it added.
In March, NHS England confirmed that all 78 of the applications received at the time had been rejected.
A full report on PhAS “will follow in due course”, including details about how many applications were unsuccessful, NHS England told C+D yesterday.
Pharmacies who do make it onto the scheme 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 said in November.
“All applications that are approved will be added to the PhAS list and payments will be backdated where appropriate,” NHS England told C+D.
Hope still for rejected applications
Noel Wardle, partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys said all seven of the applications he assisted with had been granted.
Andrea James, partner at law firm Knights 1759, said it was “good news” for her pharmacy clients so far, but there is still hope for those contractors whose applications have been rejected.
Yes - carefully review & consider whether decision flawed/amenable to legal challenge— Andrea James (@HealthRegLawyer) June 12, 2017
Last month, the DH wrote to all pharmacies receiving payments under PhAS, after it identified “some” contractors had been underpaid – and others overpaid – in the three months before March.
Speaking exclusively to C+D in March – a couple of months before he stepped down as an MP – Michael Dugher branded PhAS a "con". Read more here.