The effects of the Government’s cuts to community pharmacy funding have been ‘bigger than predicted’, All Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) chair Sir Kevin Barron has said.

The cuts – worth £208m between December 2016 and March 2018 ­– meant that the total funding, £2.6bn, was reduced by 4% compared with the previous year.

In an exclusive interview with The Pharmacist, Sir Kevin said that as contractors saw a reduction in their income as a consequence of the cuts, the Government increased the Pharmacy Quality Payment Scheme (QPS) in the last quarter.


Frightening cuts

He continued: ‘A number of pharmacists from my own constituency have talked to me about the cuts, which came along and frightened everybody.

‘The cuts have been bigger than predicted’.

Responding to his comments, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson (DHSC) told The Pharmacist that ‘future decisions on quality payments will be made in negotiations with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) on the next Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).

The DHSC added: ‘Interim arrangements for the contractual framework have been agreed and include a QPS payment of £37.5m in June 2018 – full details are set out in the drug tariff.

‘We anticipate negotiations will commence shortly.’


Impact of the cuts

Sir Kevin continued: ‘Community pharmacy is the first step for health needs for millions of people, more so than GPs surgeries, walk-in centres and accident and emergency (A&E) and we shouldn’t be making changes that aren’t predictable’.

The 2017/18 QPS includes a reconciliation payment to ensure the £75m is allocated in line with the drug tariff, which guarantees that the remaining fund will be divided between qualifying where not all contractors achieve the quality criteria across the two reviews.

Assuming there are 11,674 contractors, of which 80% (9,339) of them on average achieved 60 points, a total of 560,340 points over the two review periods would have been obtained. This means £35.86m was paid out – leaving £39.14m of the £75m, according to the drug tariff document.

It read: ‘Dividing the remaining money out over the total number of points would give a further payment of £69.85 for each point delivered.

‘However £69.85 plus the original £64 would give a total of £133.85 per point but each point is capped at a total of £128.

‘So the contractor would receive a further £64 per point at the reconciliation. This would mean that £3.28m – out of the £75m – would remain undelivered through the QPS and would be taken into account in the delivery of the overall CPCF funding agreement.’