Among the pharmacies that applied for the Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) after initially being left off the list, a further 75 have been deemed eligible for payment, according to the pharmacy minister.

Responding to a question from Barnsley East’s Labour MP Stephanie Peacock, Steve Brine said a total of 1,415 qualified for the payment.

Of these, 1,340 made the original list of pharmacies deemed eligible for the scheme – published in 2016. A further 75 were subsequently added to the list.

The PhAS scheme was launched in 2016, as part of the two-year funding package imposed on community pharmacies, by the Department of Health (DH).

The DH said the scheme would help protect patient access in areas where there are fewer pharmacies with more health needs.

Steve Brine, under-secretary of State for Health, said: 'NHS England reviewed, on application, pharmacies that believed there had been an error in drawing up that list; could demonstrate that a physical feature, such as a semi-permanent road block impeded access, meaning that in practice two pharmacies were more than one mile away from each other; or that the pharmacy was 0.8 miles or more from another pharmacy, in an area of high deprivation, and critical for access.’

Of the 356 applications for a review on this basis, 62 met the criteria and therefore qualified for the PhAS payments.

A further 13 pharmacies were added to the list after they ‘returned from locally funded arrangements to the national community pharmacy contractual framework’.

Eligibility criteria

Pharmacies don’t need to apply for the scheme, as the DH calculates eligibility through a number of criteria.

Pharmacies are eligible if:

  • They are more than a mile away from the nearest pharmacy by road
  • They were registered on the pharmaceutical list on 1 September 2016
  • They aren’t in the top 25% largest pharmacies by dispensing volume

Payment calculations

Each PhAS pharmacy received around £11,600 in 2016/17 and £17,600 in 2017/18.

As the Government believes it is vital to preserve access in remote areas, PhAS pharmacies were required to make 1% efficiency saving in 2016/17 and 3% in 2017/18, which are respectively 4% and 5% less than pharmacies that don’t qualify for the scheme.

Payment anomalies

If eligible pharmacies are automatically designated by the DH, many had to request a review process, because of ‘physical feature anomalies’.