Community pharmacy funding will stay at the current levels from April until the end of negotiations between the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and the Government.

The interim arrangement means that the current agreement of a £2.592bn per year ‘funding envelope’ agreed in October is set to be met, the negotiator confirmed today (8 March). Controversially, the 2018/19 contract did not include any extra money on the settlement imposed on pharmacies in 2016, which many in the sector still refer to as 'the cuts'.

The single activity fee (SAF) will therefore continue to be delivered at the rate from April, although this pot of funding is ‘still under discussion’ with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and therefore may change later this year, PSNC said.

Category M prices are also set to increase by £10m per month form April as the clawback imposed in November ends, the negotiator said.


New contract expected in time for October


PSNC expects negotiations with the DHSC to begin before April, and hopes that any ‘substantive changes’ to the contract will be agreed in time for an October implementation date, it said.

Meanwhile, due to ‘further discussions’ about the service in upcoming negotiations contractors will be reimbursed for a maximum of 200 medicines use reviews (MURs) between 1 April and 30 September, PSNC said.

The future of the Quality Payments Scheme (QPS) has not been negotiated yet so contractors need not try and earn more points until further notice. The future of QPS will be discussed in the upcoming negotiations, PSNC confirmed.

Pharmacies subject to the Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) will continue to receive payments at current levels from April, it added.

The pharmacy minister Steve Brine said: ‘The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a renewed vision for primary care. One in which all providers work together, making best use of their unique skills, for the benefit of patients.

‘I look forward to discussions with PSNC on how [the contract] can support community pharmacy’s further integration into primary care networks (PCNs) and enable us to better utilise the skill set and reach of pharmacy teams.’

Last month, PSNC set out its contract 2019/20 wishlist at the Sigma conference in Muscat, including a multi-year contract, more timely remuneration for the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) and 'recognition' for the money contractors have had to set aside to comply with the Falsified Medicines Directive.