The Department of Health (DH) has still not decided who will receive the £1.5 million fund to investigate pharmacy's public health role, three months behind schedule.
The department's current position was "no different" to what it was in August and there "wasn't a timescale" for awarding the grant to research the sector's cost-effectiveness, the DH told C+D on Tuesday (November 4).
It also argued that it had "never made a commitment" to making the decision in August, despite its original document saying the announcement was expected that month, with the contract due to be awarded in September. The DH said making the decision was a "long process", as it needed the "right assurances".
Last November, research teams were given just a month to submit their proposals. The DH wanted them to "strengthen the evidence base" of the cost-effectiveness of community pharmacy and also identify the health benefits of delivering care through the sector.
Joseph Bush, senior lecturer in pharmacy practice at Aston University, said the delay in the results made the decision to allow applicants only one month to produce their proposals "particularly unnecessary".
Rob Darracott, Pharmacy Voice chief executive, told C+D it was "frustrating" that the research funding had been delayed again as the research would be "valuable to the sector".
"More needs to be done to increase understanding of the role community pharmacy can play in tackling major public health challenges, such as alcohol and obesity, and many commissioners are looking for independent evidence of their success," Mr Darracott said.
In its invitation last year, the DH said that the ability of the researchers to "start promptly" would be an advantage, as this would "maximise the benefit of the findings".