The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has written to the Government requesting an urgent uplift to the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) funding.

In a briefing to contractors, PSNC said it had highlighted to ministers how the pharmacy sector has changed ‘significantly’ over the past year, with a number of changes implemented far earlier than expected.

‘We now believe funding must be uplifted to keep pace with developments,’ the briefing said.

The case for more funding made note of pressures theCovid-19 pandemic has placed on the sector over the last few months, namely the huge volumes of additional work. This includes more informal patient consultations being undertaken in pharmacies due to other areas of primary care working behind closed doors or partially shutting down, PSNC said

The briefing also raised the ‘critical issue of systemic underfunding of the sector’. It pointed to the impact this has had on the two largest pharmacy chains - Boots and Lloyds – who have both recently announced plans for significant cost-cutting and reorganisation measures.

It added that the underfunding means more pharmacies will be forced to close their doors in the coming months.

‘Fair treatment for pharmacy’

PSNC also referred to the ‘vital’ work being done by pharmacies, despite the economic challenges.

‘Community pharmacy staff have done everything within their capabilities as clinicians to support the communities they serve,’ the body said in their briefing.

It added that the efficiency squeeze being placed on the sector has been ‘drastic’ and comes both from the CPCF and externally, including regulatory factors.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of PSNC said: ‘Although Ministers have heaped praise on the sector throughout the pandemic, many officials still question the value of pharmacies and this is what PSNC and others are working hard to convince them of.

‘We are also increasingly working alongside our GP negotiating colleagues to share leverage where we can.’

He added: ‘I know that it is incredibly frustrating for contractors as they await the outcomes of these business critical conversations, but do not mistake a failure to make fast agreements for a lack of activity: we have been and will continue to do all that is needed to battle for the best deals and for fair treatment of community pharmacies at every stage.

‘If that means rejecting offer after offer from HM Government and doing all that we can to reach a satisfactory position on every single negotiating point, then that is what we will keep doing.’

Earlier this week, PSNC advised contractors against providing patients with free blood pressure checks and other free-of-charge provisions that fall outside the CPCF.