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Prescribing

Prescription per item for community pharmacists to rise again in December

Community pharmacists will receive an extra 12 pence for every prescription item (ppi) in their 1 December 2017 advance payments, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has confirmed.

This follows an equivalent 15 pence ppi increase in November 2017, which the government agreed to help “smooth the cashflow” of community pharmacists.

There is no extra funding being made available, however, and the money, which relates to services provided in October 2017, will be reconciled as usual as part of the full and final payment for October’s services at the end of December.

The PSNC said the second short-term funding boost in two months followed a request to the Department of Health, and the pharmacy minister Steve Brine, to help tackle community pharmacies’ cashflow situation following a number of issues.

A combination of the government’s own pharmacy funding cuts; a cut in category M reimbursement payments, which itself was to correct overpayments in previous years; and a sharp rise in the price of generic drugs have left many community pharmacies facing financial problems.

Sue Sharpe

Source: Courtesy, Sue Sharpe

PSNC chief executive, Sue Sharpe, said that while the increase in advance payments would provide “some relief” to pharmacy contractors, it would still leave some pharmacies in financial difficulty

PSNC chief executive, Sue Sharpe, said that while the increase in advance payments would provide “some relief” to pharmacy contractors, it would still leave some pharmacies in financial difficulty.

“We remain concerned that there will be pharmacies for which this is not enough,” she said.

“And the measures will of course not address underlying funding and sustainability issues.”

The PSNC said it did not know whether further funding cuts to community pharmacy were planned beyond the end of this financial year, but financial pressures on pharmacies would continue into the early part of 2018 because of the existing cuts.

And it said it would like to see the introduction of a system where the NHS made accurate payments to pharmacy contractors at the end of each month, removing the need for the advance payments system.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20204008

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