The government plans to "phase out" establishment payments for pharmacies in England, it has announced.
The payments – of around £25,000 a year – are made to pharmacists that dispense more than 2,500 prescriptions a month. This "relatively low" payment threshold incentivises more pharmacy businesses to open and "add costs to the taxpayer", the Department of Health (DH) said in a briefing document, published by PSNC last Friday (January 22).
The DH plans to phase out the payment completely "over a number of years", it said.
It criticised the current "complex" system of pharmacy payments, which it claimed results in pharmacies being paid "regardless of the quality of services and levels of efficiency".
The DH plans to create a new payment system specifically for distance-selling pharmacies "in recognition of the difference in their service offering", it added.
Longer prescription durations
The DH also used the document to announce its intention to save money by encouraging longer prescription durations "where clinically appropriate".
"Many prescribers already prescribe 90-day repeat prescriptions. We will be looking at steps to encourage optimising prescription duration," it said.
Some 28-day repeat prescriptions have "no clinical need" and "inconvenience" patients while creating an avoidable cost to the taxpayer, it stressed.
On the same day that the DH published its document, the all-party pharmacy group revealed that the government is braced for more than a quarter of pharmacies in England to close as a result of its 6% cut to the global sum.