The core funding for community pharmacy will remain at £2.592bn in 2021/22, despite calls from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) for an increase in light of additional financial pressures brought about by the pandemic.

Announcing the key points of a year three deal today (August 23), PSNC welcomed the extension of transitional payments for a further year which, it said, will help ensure contractors do not miss out on ‘critical monies’.

However, the Treasury’s ‘flat rejection’ of an increase in funding for the third year in a row was ‘frustrating’ and ‘disappointing,’ said PSNC.

In August of last year, PSNC wrote to the Government requesting an urgent uplift to the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) funding, making note of pressures the Covid-19 pandemic has placed on the sector.

‘Supremely disappointing’

Simon Dukes, PSNC’s chief executive, said that contractors should feel ‘aggrieved’ by the lack of additional funding.

‘Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic community pharmacy has performed magnificently – for patients, the NHS and the country. Not to have that reflected in anything other than warm words is frustrating and supremely disappointing,’ he added.

‘HM Government’s insistence that we remain at £2.592bn for a further year will bring financial tensions as we move through the autumn and the Covid-19 and advance repayments start to bite.

‘The failure of our interlocutors to accept the financial, workforce, capacity and wider costs challenges faced by every part of our sector is unfathomable,’ he explained.

The annual negotiations, which take place between PSNC and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), were delayed this year due to the ‘high volume of urgent Covid-19 work which has been prioritised by HM Government,’ PSNC explained in April.

PSNC reached a deal with the Government in June over the costs incurred by the pandemic between March 2020 and March 2021, for which the deadline for pharmacies closed this month.

DHSC plans to begin recouping the £370m from October, seeking repayments in six equal monthly sums.

Thorrun Govind, Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said she too was disappointed with the funding deal.

‘Pharmacists have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic. We are disappointed that the positive impact demonstrated by community pharmacy has not been recognised through increased investment.

‘This is a real-terms funding cut delivered through the frozen core funding. Pharmacists working in community pharmacy will understandably be demoralised by this,’ she said.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) said: ‘We are disappointed that there is no uplift despite inflation, salary and other costs rising. This is yet another decrease in funding so let’s please call it that.

‘While it is great to see more clinical services being delivered through community pharmacy, and we welcome that, AIMp has raised concerns with NHSE/I about the ongoing lack of a level playing field for community pharmacy.

‘GPs get funding to recruit pharmacists to GP practices and this has significantly impacted on community pharmacy and indeed hospital pharmacy workforce making it increasingly more challenging for the sector to deliver services,’ she added.