The community pharmacy sector should know how the additional £654m Primary Care Recovery Plan funding will be spent by the end of November, as negotiations draw to a close.

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) said in its September update that it hopes to conclude its negotiations with the government about how the funding will be allocated in time for its next committee meeting, which will be held in November.

‘It's clear that we need to ensure that funding is put on the right footing, that we understand the relationship of the new proposals with the current contract, and that the proposition includes a fair structure of payments that work now and in the future,’ CPE said.

And it added that it was committed to ‘reaching a conclusion quickly so that additional funding can be released as soon as possible’.

‘There was a desire to continue to do whatever we can on our side of the negotiations to move fast – including holding additional committee meetings at short notice,’ the negotiator added.

CPE also said that it would be important to shape ‘how the new common conditions scheme is marketed to the public and how we monitor and manage delivery against potential demand’.

Last month NHS England (NHSE) said that planning for a public-facing campaign to help raise public awareness of the common conditions service in England was ‘underway’.

The negotiator also said that its committee had been exploring what it might ask for in the 2024/25 community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF).

CPE said that it will be asking for an uplift to the sector’s baseline contract sum, higher fees for existing services and an uplift to allowed medicines margin.

And it added that it was continuing to build an evidence base around economics and value, alternative funding mechanisms, inflationary impacts and margin, to help support these negotiations.

‘The committee are thinking strategically about how we can further make our case for investment, warning about the consequences of closures, whilst still positioning the sector as a solution to some intractable NHS challenges,’ the negotiator added.

CPE had polled contractors throughout September to find out their views on the issues it was negotiating on.

It found general support for additional funding for emergency or imposed supply measures such as serious shortage protocols (SSPs) and hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions, uplifts service fees, increasing the proportion of funding delivered through margin and increasing the margin in line with increasing total funding.

And when asked what could ease pressures, over a third of the comments asked for greater discretion for pharmacists to make minor amendments to prescriptions to supply patients with medicines, without the need for an SSP.

The polling also highlighted differences in how pressures impacted independents and non-Company Chemists’ Association (CCA)multiples differently to CCA multiples.

For instance, it found that inflation and utility bills were likely to rate higher on non-CCA multiples’ and independent pharmacies’ lists of concerns, while workforce pressures seemed to affect CCA multiples more.

CPE has also recently released its annual report. It highlighted that 1,746 price concessions, worth over £324.1m were secured between April 2022 and March 2023, while 43 products were re-classified as special containers.

And it said that £131m worth of corrections and adjustments were secured in the margin survey.

The negotiator also published its annual accounts, highlighting significant exceptional expenditure to reinstate its offices following flooding, which was offset by insurance claims.

In the last financial year (2022/23), CPE received or expected to receive £3,342,214 in levies from Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs).

And it spent £2,321,053 on staff employment, £115,678 on rent, rates and other property costs and interest, £50,414 on printing, stationery, postage and telephone, and £126,054 on travelling and meeting expenses.

It also spent £209,932 on professional fees, £139.148 on public relations, and £19,673 on conferences.

CPE also highlighted increased costs from expenditure related to its Review Steering Group (RSG) and Transforming Pharmacy Representation (TAPR) expenditure.

In 2022/23, it spent £25,209 on RSG legal and consultancy costs £2,608 on RSG member expenses, and £7,585 on RSG communication costs, and £236,573 on TAPR consultancy costs, £80,651 on TAPR staffing expenses and 5,875 on TAPR communication costs.

For the financial year 2023/24, CPE demanded around £4m in total levies from LPCs in England and said that the total amount allocated to national negotiations would increase by £1.5m a year over the next two years as it worked towards negotiating the next national contract.

But the RSG previously said that it did not expect that the increased funding allocated by LPCs to national contributions would result in an overall increase in costs to contractors, but instead ‘could be delivered from efficiencies within LPCs’.