The Pharmacy Access Scheme is designed to protect pharmacies which are situated a mile or more from another pharmacy by road from the “full effect” of the cuts – as long as they are not in the top 25% best-performing businesses according to dispensing volume.
Last October, the Department of Health (DH) introduced a “near miss” process to review pharmacies that did not initially qualify for the scheme, but are affected by factors that could limit patient access.
NHS England began accepting applications from contractors in November and said it would aim to complete a review within six weeks.
The commissioner has so far received 142 applications from pharmacies to be included in this process, it told C+D yesterday evening (January 24).
Out of these, it has responded to 54 applications – all of which it has “declined because they did not meet the stated eligibility criteria”.
“The remaining applications for the scheme are still under consideration and will be responded to as soon as possible,” it said.
Pharmacies who do make it onto the scheme will each receive an average of £2,900 per month between December 2016 and March 2017, and £1,500 per month between April 2017 and March 2018. The DH will consider whether or not to provide further funding beyond this date, it said last November.
In response to claims from a contractor this week that their pharmacy had been waiting nine weeks to find out if its application had been successful, NHS England added: “We’re sorry for the delay that some pharmacies have experienced and will make backdated payments if needed.”