The PSNC has said it has put the case to health minister Jo Churchill for “an urgent uplift” in funding for the community pharmacy contractual framework.
While talks are ongoing with the Government over funding and services, the negotiator announced today that it has told Churchill, whose health brief includes community pharmacy, that the five-year deal needed to contain more money.
The agreement was struck in July last year and saw funding frozen at £2.592bn annually from 2019-20 to 2023-24.
The PSNC also said talks have begun on contractors’ remuneration for costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic and revealed a hepatitis C testing service was “imminent” while it was expected that the discharge medicines service will start in January.
Details on the 2020-21 flu vaccination service have not yet been released but the PSNC said those should be published before the service commences on Tuesday.
The PSNC also said discussions on extending referrals to the community pharmacy consultation service from GP practices have resumed after talks were interrupted by the pandemic.
“(This) has been an extremely challenging year for community pharmacies. They have done an incredible job in meeting the increasing health needs of their patients and providing a walk-in clinical advice service for their local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as helping people in need, this has supported other primary care and NHS services during a critical time,” said PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes.
“But the financial toll that this tremendous effort has taken on pharmacy businesses of all shapes and sizes is now being felt, and PSNC’s job is to make that case effectively to (the) government.
“As contractors and LPCs know, during the initial pandemic peak in the UK, PSNC was working round the clock to finalise new services and arrangements that supported contractors through the lockdown period - emergency funding injections, flexibility in opening hours, and a new national delivery service were some of the key outputs from the negotiations at that time.
“Now that the initial health emergency has passed, all PSNC Committee Members are focused on the financial emergency facing their businesses.”
Mr Dukes said the PSNC had given the government “comprehensive data” on the cost of the pandemic to pharmacies and said £370m in advance funding given to pharmacies in England during the outbreak should be written off.
“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,” Mr Dukes said.
“We are also increasingly working alongside our GP negotiating colleagues to share leverage where we can. 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 (the) 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.”