Government figures have confirmed that community pharmacy is experiencing an annual shortfall in funding of over £750m, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has suggested, following the disclosure of data in Parliament last week.

Minister of state for health and secondary care, Will Quince, published a parliamentary written answer on Wednesday setting out the discrepancy between the nominal payments agreed in the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) and the real-terms funding as a result of inflation.

Mr Quince’s statement was published in response to a written parliamentary question tabled by shadow primary care minister Feryal Clark MP, following engagement with the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA).

It sets out the real-terms value of the flat funding deal, accounting for inflation using the November 2022 gross domestic product deflator.

For instance, £2.592bn in nominal funding was worth £2.498bn in terms of inflationary costs in 2017/18, but just £2.154bn in real-terms funding in 2022/23.

Nominal funding November 2022 Gross Domestic Product deflator Real terms funding
2015/16 £2.8 billion 100.0 £2.8 billion
2016/17 £2.687 billion 102.1 £2.633 billion
2017/18 £2.592 billion 103.8 £2.498 billion
2018/19 £2.592 billion 105.6 £2.454 billion
2019/20 £2.592 billion 108.4 £2.392 billion
2020/21 £2.592 billion 115.3 £2.248 billion
2021/22 £2.592 billion 114.8 £2.259 billion
2022/23 £2.592 billion 120.3 £2.154 billion

Community pharmacy real terms and nominal funding as set out in Will Quince’s answer to parliamentary written question 101079.

Mr Quince also noted the £100m excess margin write-off agreed in the CPCF for 2022/23 and 2023/24, and added that community pharmacies also receive funding for other services, including flu and Covid-19 vaccinations and locally commissioned services.

The CCA said that if funding for the sector kept pace with growth in GDP since 2015/16, the value of the contract in 2022/23 would be more than £3.36bn.

This represents an annual shortfall in funding of over £750m, the CCA said, equivalent to over £67,000 per pharmacy in England.

‘The Department have finally confirmed what we have felt for many years, that community pharmacy is now seriously underfunded,’ commented Malcom Harrison, chief executive of the CCA.

He said that the £750m shortfall was ‘money that could be invested in frontline pharmacy staff allowing pharmacists to provide even more vital patient-facing care for the NHS’.

He added: ‘This is yet further confirmation that the funding model for pharmacy in England is truly broken.

‘Unfortunately, the Government and the NHS expect pharmacy teams to do more and more without the funding the sector needs. This cannot continue. Without immediate investment, we will see the continued erosion of the service pharmacies can provide.’