Pharmacy organisations have welcomed a Government report that revealed an ‘unprecedented rise’ in the number of concessionary price requests from contractors in 2017/18.

The report also revealed that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) suggested it will recoup the £86m ‘overpayment’ made over concessionary prices from pharmacists.


‘Double whammy’

Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) England board chair Sandra Gidley said that the report brings clarity to an issue that has ‘hit community pharmacists hard’ over the past year.

She added: ‘Many [pharmacists] have found themselves out of pocket and experienced problems with their business operations.

‘This has been a double whammy, as it comes on top of the community pharmacy cuts and we are past the stage where community pharmacists can prop up the health service out of goodwill.

Medicines shortages and fluctuating prices mean that pharmacists have to devote more time to track down supplies for their patients, in what is already a highly pressured environment.

‘We must have greater stability in generic prices – without it pharmacists struggle, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are left in debt and patients suffer.’


Moving towards ‘more refined price system’


Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Simon Dukes said that PSNC welcomes the move towards developing a ‘more refined price setting system’.

He added: ‘This must enable pharmacies to continue to purchase generic medicines effectively on behalf of the NHS for the benefit of patients.

‘Community pharmacy teams were caught in the middle of the many factors at play, working extremely hard to obtain medicines as quickly as possible for the patients who needed them.

‘PSNC was pleased to assist the National Audit Office in investigating the unprecedented situation in the generic medicines supply chain seen last year.’

For more content on shortages, including case studies on how the issue is affecting contractors around the country, see here.