Community pharmacy in England is to receive a cash injection of £50 million in advance funding by the end of May, PSNC has confirmed.

This advanced payment comes as the sector has suffered major cash flow issues as a direct result of costs induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The payment comes in addition to the £300 million the sector has received in recognition of financial pressures brought about by the pandemic.

PSNC is continuing to highlight to the government the ‘urgent need’ to provide the sector with extra funding, rather than advance payments.

A statement said: ‘To inform the funding negotiations, PSNC is continuing to work with the other national pharmacy organisations to gather evidence of contractors’ costs – data for April will shortly be submitted to Ministers to support our bid for more funding for community pharmacies.’

RPS England Chair Claire Anderson welcomed the additional funding but commented that an advance payment is not enough to keep the sector afloat.

‘While this funding may help pharmacies stay open to provide vital services and healthcare advice to the public, it’s another stop-gap measure and should be coming from new money, rather than an advance payment. The Government should review this as part of a fair funding settlement for the longer-term.

‘The ‘new normal’ for the NHS coping with Covid-19 will need a contract which makes the most of pharmacists’ clinical skills to support patients, improve medicines safety, and help people stay healthy and out of the hospital.

‘The NHS and Government now need to back pharmacy and build on the incredible work the profession did during Covid-19 to support patient care,’ she said.

NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said that although the cash injection was needed, it will place even more debt on pharmacies - many of which will struggle to pay back.

'Today’s announcement makes talks on cost recovery even more urgent. We need assurances on the medium-term position because this new advance effectively increases the level of pharmacies’ debt to the government.  Many independent pharmacies will struggle to pay it back and should never be asked to do so.

'This advance will make it easier for our members to pay their bills, for now, and to keep vital services going. But it isn’t new money and doesn’t get to the root of the funding problems. 

'Pharmacists are bearing a heavy financial burden in order to keep people safe and well.  As caring health care professionals, pharmacists have kept their doors open, often at considerable personal cost. They have done this trusting that the Health Secretary will make good on his pledge to strain every sinew to support pharmacies.'