The single activity fee (SAF) will increase by 4p to £1.29 per item from November 2017, the Department of Health (DH) has announced.

Last year, the fee was £1.13 per item, rising to £1.25 in April 2017.

The increase to £1.29 came after the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) revealed an under-delivery on fees due for 2017/18.

Community pharmacy contractors will see the increased fee in their schedule of payments document on 1 February 2018, PSNC said.

Further changes are likely to occur, as more data is now accessible, it said.

History of the SAF

The SAF was introduced in December 2016, merging the professional fee, the practice and repeat dispensing payment and the electronic prescription service (EPS) payment into one.

The scheme is part of the package of cuts to English community pharmacy funding set by the government between 2016 and 2018. Pharmacy contractors get a SAF for each item given out whether it is a medicine or an appliance.

The implementation of the SAF came alongside the phasing out of established payments.

In April 2017, community pharmacies received a monthly amount of £1,255 for dispensing more than 3,150 items, which is a reduction of 40% compared to 2015/16 levels.

‘Step in the right direction’

Community pharmacist Ben Merriman said: It’s a good step in the right direction but still below levels pre December 2016.

‘Increases will be welcomed by contractors struggling to pay wholesaler bills given massive Category M cuts and increase prices of some 80 plus lines with concessionary prices.’