The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has agreed to pay community pharmacies in England an additional £20m at the beginning of July. However, as with previous COVID-19 cash advances, this is not new money and will need to be paid back in the future.
The advance funding arrangement this month is smaller than the previous COVID-19 cash injections of £300m and £50m respectively. This is because contractors are now reporting fewer “additional COVID-19 related costs and cashflow problems” compared with the “peak of the pandemic”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said yesterday (June 29).
In total, £370m in advanced funding has so far been made available to pharmacies in England in recognition of cashflow problems faced as a result of COVID-19.
As well as ongoing costs that need to be covered, there is also “an urgent need to reach an overall settlement on community pharmacy COVID-19 related funding”, including “how the advance funding may need to be paid back in future,” the PSNC acknowledged.
It is the negotiator's "strong view" that pharmacies should not have to repay the advance funding, it said.
The NHS Business Services Authority is “calculating payments with the intention that the extra £20m can be paid at the same time as the July 1 payment”, the PSNC added.
Earlier this month (May 19) the DH announced it would increase Category M reimbursement prices by £15m in June. This is set to continue for July.
PSNC “continuing to stress the need for urgent answers”
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said the organisation is “continuing to stress the need for urgent answers and funding clarity for contractors” to the government.
“These advance funding payments, combined with the continued uplift in reimbursement prices, should help to ease the immediate cashflow and procurement problems that we know many pharmacy businesses are still grappling with as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Mr Dukes said the PSNC will “keep fighting” for certainty on what community pharmacy funding for the rest of the year will look like.
The PSNC has “put together a case for additional funding for community pharmacies” along with other national pharmacy organisations, he said.