Funding for England’s pharmacies will remain at its current level of £2.592 billion from April, but category M prices "will increase by £10 million per month, as reductions to recover excess margin...come to an end", the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee announced on Friday (March 8).
However, chartered accountant Umesh Modi said the £10m is not an increase, as this is the amount contractors have been paying in the form of a category M clawback over the past five months.
“Therefore, in real terms, there is no increase over a period of 12 months to October – assuming the negotiations on new funding arrangements conclude [then],” Mr Modi told C+D this morning (March 11).
“This is just a cynical ploy to make contractors feel good, as all that has happened is that the government is giving back what it has taken.”
He estimates that on average, every contractor in England will receive £870 extra per month from April.
Contractors and patients suffering
It is also a concern that the overall funding for pharmacies in England has continued at its reduced level, he added.
“This is still £208m less than original funding at £2.8bn and has caused many contractors a real hardship. Some have closed, others are looking to sell and many continue to reduce staff and investment in [their] business,” Mr Modi said.
It is also “disappointing” that no further Quality Payments Scheme requirements have been set as part of the latest funding announcement, as these payments are a “valuable source of income to contractors”, he added.
“We are seeing many clients suffer severe cashflow problems and [they are] barely managing to stay afloat,” Mr Modi stressed.
Patients are suffering as a result, he claimed, as they “do not receive the level of services they rightly deserve”.
“The funding policy needs to be reversed, and sooner the better.”