The Department of Health (DH) has written to pharmacies entitled to Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) payments this week to tell them that the payments they received were calculated incorrectly.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) informed pharmacy contractors at the end of March that it had identified issues with the PhAS payments.

DH has now reviewed all its PhAS payment calculations and has informed pharmacies that it is correcting errors in its methodology to make its calculations consistent with the provision in the Drug Tariff.

The Drug Tariff, produced monthly by NHS Prescription Services on behalf of the DH, mandates how much pharmacy contractors will be reimbursed for NHS services they have provided.

The DH is currently unable to comment on the payments during the pre-election period.

How this will affect contractors:

The PhAS, which was imposed along with the cuts to pharmacy funding on 20 October last year, was introduced on 1 December 2016. The correct PhAS payments will be made from the month of March 2017 onwards.

The DH has identified that in the three months before March 2017 under-payments were made to some contractors and over-payments were made to others.

The department told pharmacies that it will calculate an adjustment payment for any contractor who has been underpaid in these months, to make up the shortfall; and it will not seek to recover any over payments made in these months.

Contractors receiving PhAS payments have been advised to wait for their letters from DH setting out the detail of the corrections and, crucially, how these will affect their PhAS payments.

PSNC investigation

'The extent of the problems has now become clear. The problems arose because DH had not calculated PhAS payments in accordance with the Drug Tariff and this has led to inaccurate payments being made to contractors,' the PSNC said.

According to the PSNC, it was revealed that:

  • 'DH used an estimate of 2015/16 remuneration rather than the actual remuneration that was paid to each pharmacy.
  • DH did not use the fee levels at April 2016 to calculate estimated remuneration between April – November 2016.
  • In certain cases, DH double counted the Quality Payment.'