Negotiations on the 2022/23 pharmacy funding contract in England have begun, which will include special emphasis on additional funding for the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS), PSNC has stressed.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced on Friday (25 February) that it has entered negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) on the fourth year of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).

The negotiations on the arrangements for 2022/23 – which have started later than expected due to the volume of recent urgent Covid-19 work – will cover all service, funding and other arrangements for pharmacies, PSNC said.

The body predicted that this round of negotiations would be ‘very challenging’ in light of the recent outcome of the spending review which concluded that there would be no uplift for the sector.

PSNC vice-chair and contractor Bharat Patel commented: ‘As we approach the end of year three of the five-year CPCF arrangements, many contractors find themselves in an extremely difficult situation trying to balance spiralling costs, capacity pressures and the increasing workforce issues.

PSNC said it shared the same ambition as the government and NHS England and NHS Improvement ‘to continue to embed community pharmacies within the wider NHS’ and ‘keep expanding the sector’s role and show the very great value that pharmacies offer’, Mr Patel added.

He said: ‘We must continue to make a strong case for investment in the sector and to seek fair funding for the walk-in advice that so many people are relying on from pharmacies.

‘We are actively gathering evidence as we begin what we expect, once again, to be very challenging discussions,’ he concluded.

Andrew Lane, chair of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) said he understood why the round of negotiations this year would be so challenging.

However, he stressed it was time to ‘end the years of underfunding in England and instead invest in pharmacies to meet the growing healthcare needs of the population.’

‘All parties should proceed on the basis that pharmacies provide vital services and deliver for the NHS in a cost-effective way,’ he said.