Negotiations for the 2024/25 contractual framework have been delayed due to last year’s ministerial reshuffle, it has been revealed.

Discussions had still not begun as of 16 January, according to a blog post by Community Pharmacy England (CPE) chief executive Janet Morrison, who said she was expecting to hear from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England ‘imminently’.

The negotiations had been due to start last year but were pushed back after November’s reshuffle, which saw Andrea Leadsom appointed as pharmacy minister and Victoria Atkins replacing Steve Barclay as secretary of state for health and social care.

In line with previous statements, Ms Morrison said CPE would be asking for an uplift on the core global sum in the 2024/25 contract, ‘reflecting the impact of cuts on the sector over the past five years, inflationary and other cost increases, and the grave state of sector finances’.

Ms Morrison added that CPE will also be arguing for:

  • a write-off of any historic margin over-delivery;
  • an agreed mechanism for regular funding increases linked to activity and inflation;
  • annual uplifts to service fees;
  • more fundamental reform of the margin delivery framework; and
  • an economic review of the medicine supply chain.

CPE is working on the assumption that the negotiation will be for one year, with the government’s spending review providing ‘financial constraints on what can be expected in 2024/25’, Ms Morrison said.

She added: ‘We do not expect these negotiations to bring significant clinical service proposals from government and the NHS having had the recent addition of the Primary Care Recovery Plan funding for Pharmacy First, blood pressure and contraception services.

‘But at this stage it is hard to predict the outcome from the negotiations and what we can expect in terms of an overall uplift.’

Earlier this month, CPE raised funding concerns over the reduction in Category M reimbursement outlined in the January drug tariff.

With reduced medicines market costs and several lines being switched from branded to generic formulations, CPE estimated that between January and March this year, the sector would receive £38m less in reimbursement than between October and December last year.