The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is exploring whether a move towards quarterly margin surveys would give contractors a ‘smoother delivery of margin’, it has said.

The negotiator announced that it was looking at changing from the current annual survey in a summary report of its November meeting, published this week (3 December).

The report said: ‘PSNC’s funding and contract subcommittee considered estimates of the current margin run rate for 2019/20 and whether the October Category M prices had fed through to contractors as intended.’

It added that making the annual survey quarterly instead ‘might bring benefits for contractors in allowing for more frequent adjustments and overall smoother delivery of margin’.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was unable to comment due to the pre-election quiet period.


Reforms to margins


In July, the Government published proposals to reform NHS prescription reimbursements from April 2020, with the aim of ensuring contractors have equal access to margin.

However, it admitted that while the changes are designed to have a ‘net zero impact’ on the sector due to the redistribution of margin, they ‘could generate winners and losers at individual pharmacy level’.

In September, PSNC warned that the proposals risk financially disadvantaging contractors as well as ‘exacerbating’ shortages.

Meanwhile, a £15m per month rise in Category M prices was announced in July that sought to ‘bring some relief’ after a predicted shortfall in margin delivery.

The change came just four months after the end of the clawback imposed in November 2018.

In June, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) called for the new pharmacy contract to ‘be fair to independent pharmacies’ by adopting funding models that rely less on margin – which it said is not delivered ‘equitably’ across the sector.