The interim funding agreement could force pharmacies to close in 2013, financial experts forecast this week as contractors saw shortfalls of up to £7,000 in their first affected NHS statements.
Independents and 100-hour pharmacies would be particularly vulnerable to "severe difficulties" as the 45p reduction in average item value took full effect over the next few months, accountants told C+D, and some would "almost certainly" face closure.
"There will be a number of pharmacies, especially small and 100-hour, that will face severe difficulties in the coming months and will almost certainly be forced to close" Umesh Modi, Silver Levene
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Andy Harwood, director at finance company Pharmacy Partners, said some contractors were down by £5,000 to £7,000 in October prescription payments received at the end of December. And although large multiples would have many other revenue streams to fall back on, he stressed nobody would be immune.
"Across our portfolio, some [pharmacies] got hit quite hard and some not at all, and there's no continuity across the sector – it's very much case by case," Mr Harwood told C+D. "The general observation is it's going to get tougher, so the next payments are going to be similar."
"A number of pharmacies, especially small and 100-hour, will face severe difficulties in the coming months and will almost certainly be forced to close," added Umesh Modi, partner at accountancy firm Silver Levene.
Pharmacy brokers agreed 100-hour businesses would be particularly vulnerable. While Hutchings Consultants predicted many of these would now close "sooner rather than later", MediEstates said the conditions would "test the longevity of 100-hour pharmacies in particular".
Graham Phillips, owner of Manor Pharmacy Group (Wheathampstead) Ltd, Hertfordshire, also expressed fears for independents. "Multiples... just need to show stakeholders an overall return [on investment], but the independent has to pay back the capital it borrows with interest," he told C+D.
The final 2012-13 funding settlement, taking into account the cost-of-service inquiry, is still under discussion between PSNC and the Departmnet of Health.
Interim funding in numbers
2.49 billion total interim funding for 2012-13
72.5 million category M clawbacks per quarter
45p reduction in average item value
15p reduction in practice payments per item
How will the category M clawbacks affect your business?