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COVID-19: Additional £20m 'advance funding' agreed for pharmacies

The £20m brings the total advance funding for English pharmacies to £370m
The £20m brings the total advance funding for English pharmacies to £370m

Community pharmacies in England will receive an additional £20 million in “advance funding” by the beginning of July to aid with COVID-19 cashflow problems, the PSNC has announced.

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.

What do you make of the advanced payment arrangement?

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

How do you sleep at night Mr Dukes,and justify your employment?If I had the results (negative) that you have attained,in running my business,I would now be in administration.Results are what counts-not never ending jibber-jabber.

O J, Community pharmacist

It will give the contractors and all the community pharmacy colleagues a broader understanding if the PSNC can be transparent in the negotiations.

Perhaps releasing minutes of the meeting.

Kav Singh, Community pharmacist

When its time to repay it they will take back more then they have given. Its absolutely diabolical that this is not new money introduced but a loan. Once its all over we will be worse off.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

It was interesting to hear, last night, how the DoH find it difficult to negotiate with PSNC because some factions represented among the negotiators keep trying to swing things to their particular advantage instead of negotiating for Pharmacy as a whole as they should be.  In the interests of the new openness agenda, should they be named and shamed? would there be any surprises?

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