In negotiations it hopes to start in April, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it will be looking for a settlement of “more than one year, hopefully up to five” akin to the new GP contract announced last month.
PSNC will call for a longer contract to allow contractors “some time to understand the future and to plan and deal with your businesses accordingly”, director of funding Mike Dent said in a video shown to delegates at the Sigma conference in Muscat, Oman on Sunday (February 17).
“There is a lag to get the full money”
The negotiator will also be addressing the timing of contractors’ monthly payments, Mr Dent said.
“One of the most complex things [contractors] deal with is the whole advance recovery process. You're never quite sure how much you're going to get paid, so we'd like to be able to clarify that for you.”
This could be possible if the proportion of items dispensed via the electronic prescription service (EPS) increases to between 80% and 90% following the service’s full rollout, he added.
PSNC’s regional representative for north-west England Fin McCaul said that as more prescriptions become electronic, “there's no reason why we couldn't get paid as close as possible to when we need to pay for our wholesaler bills that month”.
At the moment, “there is a lag for us to get the full money” from the NHS Business Services Authority of up to two months after dispensing, Mr McCaul told C+D.
“If we get paid for everything that was dispensed in January at the end of February, then when we pay our wholesaler bills it's really manageable.”
Full reimbursement for FMD
Mr Dent said PSNC will also ask the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) for “recognition of the costs of implementing the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD)”.
The EU’s anti-counterfeit legislation – which requires all pharmacies to be able to scan barcodes on medicines packaging at the point of dispensing – came into force on February 9.
Building on a commitment announced in October to discuss FMD remuneration with the DH, Mr McCaul said PSNC would look for funding to cover the costs of hardware, software and staff workload.
The cost of hardware and software is “very little compared to the processing costs” of staff scanning packaging, Mr McCaul said.
“We will be looking at all scenarios for that and negotiating with the DH as to what's the most appropriate funding mechanism.”
Any funding for FMD compliance will be discussed in negotiations post-April, Mr McCaul said.
“The DH are not going to pay us upfront for it anyway, because they'll always retrospectively pay,” he added.
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