The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) rejected the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and HM Treasury’s original funding proposal last summer for being “too limited”.
Despite submitting additional data showing the “extensive costs” that contractors have incurred as a result of the pandemic in the autumn, DH officials have indicated that the Treasury “has not moved from its original position”, PSNC said in an update on funding negotiations today (February 9).
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said the negotiator is “pushing” for contractors' costs to be “fully covered” by the government.
“The role that pharmacies have played, and continue to play, through the COVID-19 pandemic has been faultless: you have been absolutely critical both to patients and to keeping primary care services going. You have been the buffer for the NHS. You have absorbed the costs of doing that in good faith, and despite the exhaustion of your teams, you are also now pushing hard to be recognised as a key provider of COVID-19 vaccinations,” he stressed.
“There is nothing more you could do.”
PSNC is still waiting for a response to its bid to waive the £370 million in advance funding made available to pharmacy contractors in England, as well an uplift in funding for the five-year pharmacy contract, the negotiator said.
Officials “failing to protect pharmacy”
Mr Dukes said the negotiator is “deeply frustrated” at the Treasury’s reluctance to budge on its “insufficient” funding offer and believes that its “position is not in line with ministers’ promises”, he said.
“We also believe that [the DH] and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) are failing in their duty to protect the sector financially,” he added and urged the sector to “publicly hold [the government] and NHSE&I to account for their funding decisions and the impact that those can have on patients”.
He also called for cross-sector support to “make even more noise to showcase the value of what pharmacies do”.
“PSNC spent time action-planning at its meeting last week and we believe, regrettably, that alongside our ongoing private discussions with [the] government and officials, community pharmacy will increasingly need to go public with its concerns,” Mr Dukes concluded.
C+D has approached the DH and HM Treasury for comment.