The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) advised contractors to “reconsider” providing services that are not part of the community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF) for free in a statement today (August 21).
This comes after reports from contractors that they are “increasingly being asked to pick up primary care work which would normally fall outside of pharmacies’ funded services,” the negotiator said.
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said the “very treacherous financial situation” that many pharmacies are in means it is “simply not possible for many to continue to offer extra services free of charge”.
This statement comes following the COVID-19 pandemic, during which pharmacies have told PSNC of “significant increases to their workload” and new ways they have stepped into supporting patients through the crisis.
The negotiator said a large proportion of the unfunded work contractors have been carrying out “has been prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
It includes services such as “taking blood pressure measurements for patients; helping patients to use other health monitoring equipment; helping patients with reordering repeat prescriptions and liaising with practices; and delivering medicines to vulnerable or housebound patients (outside of the government’s scheme for shielded patients)”, the PSNC added.
As this work is not funded as part of the contract, contractors are entitled to “charge people for some of these services”, the negotiator said. They can also “choose to say that they are unable to provide this help”, it added.
“While some of this work is a core part of community pharmacy’s remit as a key local healthcare resource for local communities, other tasks now being asked of pharmacies fall outside the scope for which they are remunerated,” Mr Dukes said.
Additional funding under negotiation
The PSNC has “put a comprehensive business case” to the government regarding the increased costs faced by contractors as a result of COVID-19, which is currently under negotiation, it said
However, as there is no extra funding available at this time, the PSNC has advised that contractors stop providing services for free – advice Mr Dukes said is “not given lightly”.
“As a sector we have for many years offered services free of charge or at a tariff that does not even cover our costs, and this simply is not sustainable in the current funding environment,” he continued.
“Without action to balance costs, the core professional services of pharmacies may all be at risk, and this would have a significant and detrimental impact on patients which must be avoided,” Mr Dukes added.