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DH ‘carefully considering’ waiving £370m COVID-19 advance funding

Proposals to cover extra COVID-19 costs are under "active discussions" , according to the DH
Proposals to cover extra COVID-19 costs are under "active discussions" , according to the DH

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) is “carefully considering” waiving community pharmacy’s obligation to pay back £370 million in advance COVID-19 funding.

In March, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced it had secured £300m in advanced funding in “recognition of the significant cashflow pressures facing the sector at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The DH later agreed to pay pharmacies in England an additional £50m in May, followed by an extra £20m in June.

At the time, the PSNC said the payment was not new money and would need to be paid back in the future.

However, a DH spokesperson said yesterday (November 12) that the negotiator has now made the case “that the £370m advanced [payment] shouldn’t be reclaimed from community pharmacy”.

“Those representations are being carefully considered by the department,” the spokesperson said at an NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) webinar last night.

“We acted very quickly at the start of the pandemic to put extra advanced funding in to address the cashflow difficulties that we knew community pharmacy was facing,” they added.

PSNC considering funding offer

Since April, the government has funded new services delivered at pharmacy level, including the pandemic delivery service, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The DH said it has “put a proposal to the PSNC” regarding the other costs community pharmacy has incurred due to COVID-19, such as staff cover.

“It’s under active discussions,” the DH spokesperson said.

A recent report by accountancy firm Ernst & Young warned that under the current funding model, the provision of services may be financially unviable for pharmacies in England.

In response to this report, pharmacy bodies have called for greater funding to avoid closures and financial ruin for pharmacy contractors.

What do you make of this announcement?

Ex Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The morons on this chat who think community pharmacy isnt in trouble are absolutely wholeheartedly confused and ignorant to the situation at hand. Whatever clouded glasses you are wearing, I highly suggest removing them. C.Pharmacy is in a very difficult position. For now our heads are just above the water line, but any worse than this and we will soon be in trouble. My main concern is that there is such lack of respect given to our profession. We are awkward middlemen between doctor and patient. Nobody knows what we do, nobody understands what we do, we simply package pills and if you're lucky enough...deliver them to your door. That's the majority viewpoint. That's my problem.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Consider the money already spent, a second pointless lockdown (even the WHO does not recommend them), contracts without tender and epic squandering of national resources.

Contrast that with DH wavering over a mere 370M and glow with rage in the apparent lack of gratitude of pharmacies that kept their door open and dealing with the public over these stressful and tiring months of 2020.

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I can't believe the commenters on here who have no clue about the finances required to run a community pharmacy. There is no way pharmacies can survive after an 8% funding cut, followed by 7 years of flat funding. All operating costs are rising. This is a recipe for disaster. It is also the reason why pharmacies are closing across England at an increasing rate. There have been nearly 500 net closures since the funding cuts were introduced. Fewer pharmacies means fewer jobs for locums and fewer jobs in pharmacy as a whole. All when workloads are rising. There simply is not enough money in the current contract to provide for enough staff to safely provide the services we are supposed to. Add in the effects of the pandemic such as increased demand for deliveries and paying for cover for staff who are isolating or have COVID symptoms and you really have a perfect storm. Unless substantial additional funding is provided, there will be carnage in the community pharmacy sector. It's also worth noting that if pharmacies close, the neighbouring pharmacies cannot just pick up the workload from the closing pharmacy. They will just not have the space or the staff required to do it. If one pharmacy closes, there will very likely be others who will closely follow, like dominoes. Those who take pleasure in the funding cuts and deride pharmacies who say more funding is needed are totally clueless and disingenuous. The reality is extremely grim.



Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

You may well be spot on. The thing is employees think back only a few years ago well before any cuts and recall how they've been treated with respect to pay and conditions.

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

We have been hearing this tripe for years. contractors pleading poverty at every available opportunity, yet evidence points to the contrary. Over two years ago, figures of 3000 closures were predicted. None have occured save for a some 200, mainly by large corporates, who are in process of re-organisation.They are also selling off some, which are being snapped up by first timers and smaller mutiples, who are already in the business. Do you think the latter group who are already in business are downright fools, expanding their estate to lose money.??Surely not.

Speak to Christies, pharmacy sales agents, for a pleasant surprise, to note that pharmacy is profitable, and certaily did not suffer during the pandemic.

The DOH are fools to fund an already hugely profitable recession proof business.



Independent Dave, Community pharmacist

Axed Locum you're a complete joke! He's in the same category as those who are out there saying that covid doesn't exist and the vaccine is just a ploy from the government to insert micorochips and control us all. You only spread pure, pure hate from your own experiences, which do not represent the full reality. Stop pigeon holing all hardworking family independents who were once locums themselves, in the same box as the some of the "greedy" multiples. The biggest multiples supply and profit immensely off their own drugs where as we're lucky to still make a few pence off most the drugs we buy, if not having to take a loss. Helping to close us all down for your own pleasure and spread hate and lies is not going to help anybody out there. Any locums with such pure hate and ignorance will listen to your trump like rubbish. However for anybody else out there who would rather have some sort of informed opinion, please do not listen to any of this idiot's comments on this website or give him the platform to work on! 

Pharm Druggist, Community pharmacist

I knew axed locum would pop up haha, always does on articles like this. I used to put forward arguments to them but I don't bother anymore. There is no reasoning with someone with such a one track mind displaying such blind hate and resentmentm just got to find humour in what they're saying! Same points about speaking to Christy's blah blah, they are salesmen .. it's their actual job to talk things up and make things seem rosy. Prime example of how a little bit of information is dangerous. "If you can't hack it, pack it." Think the irony is lost on them.

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

If any buyer had any sense, they would see beyond the sales patter of the agents, and carry out the necessary checks, such as 3yearsof accounts, VAT returns ETC, and then take a decision to commit to a purchase.Ultimately CAVEAT EMPTOR rules!!

A nonsensical argument from Pharm Druggist

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

Your reaction is typical of some who cannot accept a contrarion view, supported by  facts.

It is a shame that you cannot accept such a view, and resort to personal attacks and insults. Grow up boy, and if you can't hack it, pack it.


sunil maini, Community pharmacist

Dear Axed.

Your comments are noted,and much in line what I expected.I do not know why you have such a chip on your shoulder,and are so against contractors.I do not know what has happened in your past,to be so antagonistic towards the people who pay your wages.As for me packing it,you dont know me-i can hack it.But it is simple-if  contactors don not have fair income coming in,they can not afford to pay staff,including locums like yourself,the money they deserve.We all need to be on the same side.I feel sorry that locums are getting such poor rates,ratyes that I got paid as a locum 25 years ago.But this is not our fault.We all need to get paid what we deserve.So i feel no shame in fighting our cause.I wish you well

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

I don't have a chip on my shoulders, and not against a sector of the community pharmacy, but simply reciprocating contempt recieved from mainly the corporate sector, who have over the years despite increases in the global sum, have bullied, harrased, stretched and extracted from the Employee and Locum Pharmacists. To plead for the contractors case, is like turkeys voting for christmas.The current sysiem is not fit for purpose, and needs a radical change, where the RP is respected, and remunerated fairly in line with the fee profit generated for the corporate/principals.If a business cannot pay a minimum of £25.00 to a self employed pharmacist, they need to close, and any self respecting pharmacist should charge in line with the fee profit generated for the principals.

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

Axed locum.Maybe your pseudonym "axed" explains a lot.I can not get a locum for the next four months....maybe if you are unable to get work,you are not so good at your job??Your pathetic argument re how profitable pharmacies are would add to that delusional world you inhabit

Christopher Jay, Community pharmacist

Community Pharmacy has received £370 million in advanced funding, it was made perfectly clear that this would have to be paid back, what do you not understand? Why all the adverse comment. This loan was separate and in addition to the  community pharmacy payment structure, all business owners should be aware of of their finances. Pharmacies over the past few years (Pre COVID) that have struggled with economic viability have closed down. It is tough out there. Businesses sometimes fail. Pharmacies do not have a better case for support than any other business. Think what the airline industry is receiving, or theatres. Remaining open during the lockdowns provided opportunities that are the envy of many other businesses on the High St, if business owners did not take advantage of these opportunities don't blame the government, that is too easy. I think many will be upset at my comment, however, at the end of the financial year it will be your actions that increase your business profitability, or not.

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

idiot idiot idiot!Airlines and theatres do not keep people alive.They are "like to have", not a necessity.Do you not have any concept of the seriousness of the service you provide??If not, pls get yourself a job in Mcdonalds

Hadi Al-Bayati, Locum pharmacist

An accountancy firm reported that the current funding may mean Pharmacy is unviable.

The fact that an industry which is government funded is even thought of in this way means more funding is required.

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

In addition to this may have recieved Business Grants from the local authority, plus the rates relief.

Business has been good for the pharmacies, as they have enjoyed an increase in trade, and like the Supermarket stores, and hence extra profits. The supermarkets have reported increase in sales and profits and it would not be any different for the pharmacies.

Other businesses have taken Government backed loans, which have to be repaid, and pharmacy should not be treated any differently.

The DOH should take this into account and decline to refund.


sunil maini, Community pharmacist

Here we are again,axed.The supetrrmarkets,like pharmacies saw an increase in trade.So much so that they advertised for extra staff,and have reported increased incomeHowever I believe that Sainsburys reported decreased profit,inspite of more sales,due to increased costs due to Covid.So work this through in your tiny little brain.They kept all the excess profit,but still registered a loss due to increased costs.Pharmacy made excess profits due to people panicking and ordering scripts early. Not really excess profits however,just a timing difference.#However,in order to cope with demand,lots of overtime had to be done.Has the government asked supermarkets to pay back their excess profits?NO! pharmacies have not made excess profits in the long term.All we did wsas provide scripts early,but that involved incurring lots of extra costs.SO ITS SIMPLE,EVEN FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND (i hope).IF WE DO NOT GET HELP TO PAY FOR THOSE EXTRA COSTS,STAFF WILL LOSE JOBS,AND PATIENTS WILL SUFFER.

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

Sunil & Dave,- simple advice for you both. if your business are so bad, or profits dropping, you would be selling up while there is a queue of buyers. Its a no brainer, and If there are any idiots, then you will see them when you look in the mirror.

Keep on toiling in your illusionary turd!!.




O J, Community pharmacist

I agree to some extent especially the but you mentioned about the contractors knowing their finances. However, you can't compare airline industry to pharmacy. Airline industry can realistically charge whatever they want. Pharmacy only get reimbursed what ever the government says. Furthermore, I am not sure if you how much you are aware of the buying and reimbursement model. For instance, the wholesale price increases yet the reimbursement price will not go up straightaway.

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Agreed, unless Christopher Jay has extensive expirience in the airline industry too.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Because they weren't allowed to close and use furlough payments and had no control over prices they were paying for stock. I'm no apologist for the large contractors butif Pharmacy is " part of the NHS" then it deserves to be treated like the rest and attract additional funding, not be penalised.
It would be nice to think the resulting windfall would be invested in the frontline...I won't hold my breath

Dave Downham, Manager

No, I'm not reassured.

Ashley Cohen, Community pharmacist

Not sure why its taken 8 months for them to "consider" it. Maybe another 8 months before they make a decision, by which time how many more pharmacies will be closed??

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

After careful consideration, the DH decided to ask pharmacy to pay back the £370million COVID-19 funding...times 2.

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