All community pharmacy contractors will be able to receive advance payments around 20 days earlier from November, the PSNC has announced.

The payment timetable change has been agreed between the PSNC and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and will apply to contractors who submit FP34C data through the Manage Your Service (MYS) portal by the fifth of the month.

From March 2022, contractors will only be able to submit monthly forms digitally and paper submissions will no longer be accepted. Those making paper declarations between November and March will not benefit from earlier advance payments.

There will be no change to the final reconciliation payment date.

Announcing the change, PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said: ‘The option for all community pharmacy contractors to bring forward the timing of their advance payments is a long overdue and very welcome development that will benefit all pharmacy businesses.

‘The agreement follows several months of discussions between PSNC and HM Government, and PSNC is pleased to have got a positive outcome for all contractors.’

The shift to digital-only declarations will ‘make processes more streamlined’ and is part of a wider strategy to better integrate community pharmacy with the NHS, Dukes added.

This agreement forms part of discussions over the Pharmacy Earlier Payment Scheme (PEPS), which the Government announced in June would come to an end.

Contractors who have been using PEPS will receive the final payment under the scheme on 1 October. A 12-month transition period will begin from 1 November to allow pharmacies to transfer from PEPS to the new earlier advance payment timetable.

On 1 November, PEPS contractors will get a sum of 92% of the final PEPS payment received the month before. Pharmacies will have to pay back the November sum in 11 equal payments over the transition period.

The extended transition period ‘should significantly ease cashflow pressures on contractors currently using the PEPS’, Dukes said.

The drug tariff for September, announced yesterday (26 August) also states that late submissions will be subject to different arrangements and admin charges, and that in months where there is a bank holiday in the first five days, the FP34C submission deadline will be extended.

Plans will also be put in place for contractors who are unable to make their FP34C submission through MYS. The tariff also outlined requirements for prescriptions issued via the electronic prescription service (EPS).

The PSNC said it will announce details of a webinar to go through the changes and provide practical support in due course.