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Recently opened pharmacies to receive share of £370m Covid funding

By Isabel Shaw

04 Aug 2020

Pharmacies that have recently opened in England will be eligible to receive a share of the £370m advance funding the sector received in recognition of Covid-19-related cashflow challenges.

Any community pharmacy that opened between 1 March and 30 June 2020 and has provided NHS pharmaceutical services during these four months will be able to receive a share of the funding, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced yesterday (3 August).

This includes pharmacies that have changed ownership within these months, or those that have merged with other pharmacies.

Analysis of the figures on pharmacy openings and closures, published by NHS Digital – suggests 63 pharmacies in England opened between 1 March and 5 June of this year. However, at least 98 pharmacies closed their doors within the same period.

The amount each individual pharmacy will be paid by the Government is dependent on when within the three months it opened. For example, pharmacies which opened during June 2020 will be eligible to receive a share of the £20 million cash injection the sector received in June – but would not be eligible for money from uplifts from previous months.

‘Nowhere near enough’

The £370m uplift is not additional funding, but money already promised to the sector under the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework five-year deal.

Pharmacy bodies have said that this funding is not enough to keep the sector afloat and the Pharmaceutical Services Committee (PSNC) is currently seeking a long-term increase to total pharmacy funding in recognition of the ‘unprecedented challenges’ pharmacies are facing as a result of the pandemic.

Last month (21 July), a Conservative Lord criticised the amount of funding the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has made available to community pharmacies in England during the Covid-19 crisis.

Lord Grade of Yarmouth, an English television executive and businessman, said it was ‘totally unrealistic’ for the DHSC to expect the amount it has given to the sector to be enough, adding that it was near enough to keep [community pharmacies] in business let alone to give pharmacists a day off or allow them to make a living’.

The fact that the DHSC thinks the established funding is enough ‘demonstrates how the department fails to understand why pharmacies are in such great peril,’ he added.

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