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‘Pharmacy owners shouldn’t rejoice over the £10m category M increase’

"Contractors have a high pain threshold, and I think we’ve proved that well"

While the increase of category M reimbursement prices is welcome news, The Contractor is concerned about the forthcoming minimum wage increase

As a contractor who never really saw the “good times”, the category M clawbacks have been immensely tough on our business. The recent announcement that the current clawback is finally ending after almost three years has been somewhat welcome news.

By a quick calculation – dividing £10 million by the 11,500 pharmacies in England – this would result in £870 extra per month for each pharmacy, if the sum was distributed evenly. However, realistically, this won’t be the case, as it will depend on which generics pharmacies use, and the volumes they dispense.

With some trepidation, I assume all contractors will see a small increase. However, I don’t think we will suddenly be jumping for joy, as the drastic funding cuts have taken their toll on every single contractor. I’m not going to invest in a state-of-the-art robot just yet.

It’s worth noting the minimum wage will go up around the same time, by 4.9% to £8.21 per hour. For an average pharmacy, with the equivalent of two full-time staff, this will take a fair chunk of the ‘extra money’.

Contractors have a high pain threshold

January was supposed to be the toughest month for contractors, but when things have been so bad for so long, you don’t really notice it getting even tougher. Contractors have a high pain threshold, and I think we’ve proved that well.

We bear the brunt of all locums thinking we are rich (when we get richer, so will they), the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) thinking we have milked the system (entirely unfair on contractors who have worked honestly and so hard), and patients wanting the same service they’ve always had (impossible).

We’ve seen drastic staff cuts, empty shelves and problems with wholesaler bills for far too long. I’m hoping the new contract will be fair for all and help independent contractors cope with the demands of an ageing population. We all want to help with overall health outcomes, but we can’t do it for free.

The Contractor is an independent pharmacy owner in England

3 Comments

Suketu Patel, Community pharmacist

Agree with article but it's not a increase as the headline suggests.

Independent Dave, Community pharmacist

This article hits the nail on the head. Many of us contractors are unfairly judged based on the “gravy train” of previous owners (by the Nhs more then anybody) in the past. But painfully it also includes some of our own Locum’s which is understandable as I was no different, basing it on people who are now in their 60s now. Unfortunately, the case is almost the exact opposite now, and these are the times where we need to stick together more then ever. The only people who will clean up by surviving when a lot of us are forced out are the vertically intergrated. This isn’t good for anybody, especially the patients,but it seems it’s what the government decided they’re happy with a number of years ago to “balance things out”. God help any pharmacy, they’re staff, and families dispensing between only 3-8k items.

Independent Dave, Community pharmacist

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