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Pharmacy funding cuts

Corrected Pharmacy Access Scheme payments now being sent out, Department of Health assures pharmacies

Department of Health building, Whitehall, London

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The announcement follows a problem, identified by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee at the end of March 2017, which saw under-payments being made to some contractors and over-payments to others.

The Department of Health (DH) has sent a letter to all pharmacies eligible for Pharmacy Access Scheme payments informing them that they will receive correct payments due to them under the scheme.

It follows a problem, identified by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) at the end of March 2017, which saw under-payments being made to some contractors and over-payments to others.

The errors occurred because the Pharmacy Access Scheme payments had not been calculated in accordance with the Drug Tariff, the DH said.

The exact payment was supposed to be based on the funding each pharmacy received in 2015­–2016, incorporating an efficiency saving of 1% in 2016–2017 and 3% in 2017–2018.

But, according to the PSNC, the DH used an estimate of remuneration for the 2015–2016 year, rather than the actual remuneration that was paid to each pharmacy. The department also did not use the fee levels at April 2016 to calculate estimated remuneration between April and November 2016 and in certain cases, it double-counted the quality payment.

All payment calculations have now been reviewed and the DH has assured pharmacy contractors that it is correcting errors in its methodology to ensure that the calculations will now be in line with the Drug Tariff.

Contractors receiving these payments are advised to hold tight until they have received a letter from the DH detailing the corrections to be made and the effect on their Pharmacy Access Scheme payments for their respective pharmacy.

The scheme was introduced on 1 December 2016 to protect 1,300 pharmacies against the full effects of the community pharmacy funding cuts in England. Pharmacies not on the initial list were also given the opportunity to apply to NHS England to have their cases reviewed, but the decision on these applications will now not be announced until after the UK general election on 8 June 2017.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202855

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