Community pharmacies across England have collectively claimed over £269m for costs relating to the Covid pandemic, The Pharmacist has learned.
This is over double the amount contractors would have been allowed to claim under the Government’s originally proposed cap of £120m.
In June, Simon Dukes, former PSNC CEO, announced that pharmacy contractors would be able to claim 13 months’ worth of uncapped Covid-related costs from July.
Contractors were able to claim for Covid-related costs incurred between March 2020 and March 2021. Claims were made between 5 July and 15 August, with payments for their claims expected on 1 October.
A total of 10,043 different pharmacies made Covid-related financial claims, a freedom of information (FOI) request sent by The Pharmacist to the NHS Business Service Authority (NHSBSA) has shown.
The FOI response, received on 10 November, revealed the total amount claimed from those pharmacies to be £269,915,957.92.
However, the NHSBSA said that this number ‘subject to change’ because of the ongoing ‘prepayment and post-payment verification processes’.
Although the Government did not place a cap on payment claims, the Treasury has previously said it may ‘review’ the total amount of claims made if it exceeded the £370m awarded last year in Advance Payments.
In response to the recent data, Mike Dent, director of pharmacy funding at PSNC said: ‘PSNC is pleased that the total amount claimed by contractors for their Covid-19 related costs significantly exceeds the £120m we were originally offered to cover those costs.
‘This makes our decision to stand firm, and then to fight very publicly for what we believed contractors were owed, more than worthwhile.’
A spokesperson from the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) said: ‘CCA members, and the community pharmacy sector as a whole, have worked relentlessly hard during the heights of the pandemic and were pivotal in providing critical services for local communities such as face to face care and delivering medicines for the vulnerable.
‘Each pharmacy will have evaluated the costs incurred from Covid-related challenges during this period of acute patient need.
‘We hope that all pharmacy businesses have been able to recover the costs they incurred while providing care, services and medicines supply throughout the pandemic.’
In September, PSNC said that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of community pharmacy contractors had submitted a claim to cover their Covid-19 costs.
They also said that the total amount that had been requested is ‘significantly higher’ than the amount the Government initially agreed to offer contractors. However, they did not disclose how much money had been requested by pharmacy contractors.
In March, pharmacists in England began to protest in response to the Government’s refusal to write off the £370m debt the sector was given as a support loan during the pandemic. The Government began recouping the £370m last month (October), seeking repayments in six equal monthly sums.