The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has announced that formal tripartite negotiations on the arrangements for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) in 2021/22 have begun.

It also confirmed that there was still no resolution on the extra costs borne by community pharmacy contractors in England to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Giving his reaction, NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “It is massively disappointing that pharmacies are still waiting for a resolution on Covid costs. The prime minister’s warm words about the heroics of pharmacy teams during the pandemic will sound very hollow unless he keeps his promise to reimburse pharmacies for the costs they have incurred to keep vital services running.

“Community pharmacies have kept their side of the bargain – staying open to keep people well, save lives and help the country out of lockdown. In so serving the nation, pharmacies have incurred considerable extra costs that natural justice demands to be repaid.

“The NHS would not have been able to cope over the past 12 months without an accessible network of pharmacies near to where people live, work and shop. We need this sorted quickly, to avoid a collapse in morale and the acceleration of pharmacy closures, he said.

The negotiations announced today are being help behind closed doors between PSNC, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).

The discussions taking place will cover all service, funding and other arrangements for pharmacies in 2021/22, in line with the five-year CPCF deal.

“Alongside this process, separate negotiations on funding to recognise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on contractors are also ongoing between PSNC and the Government,” the pharmacy negotiator said.

PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said: “Contractors have been waiting many months for news on Covid-19 funding and on the CPCF for 2021-22 (Year 3 of our five-year deal) and it is frustrating that we are yet again beginning to negotiate CPCF arrangements in-year.

“Contractors who have been following our negotiations updates will know what we are up against – PSNC has already rejected one government offer on Covid costs, and we received no response to our autumn bid for a broader funding uplift. I have talked of the blocks we repeatedly face-with officials challenging us on costs at every step and refusing to reward us based on the value we deliver- and despite the phenomenal efforts of pharmacies in the past year, I do not expect these negotiations to be any easier.

“The PSNC Committee is deeply concerned about the lack of resolution on Covid costs and they are worried about workload and finances in the year ahead: we will do all that we can to make this as manageable as possible for contractors.

“The Committee has also made clear to HM Government that while we will now commence negotiations, it is unlikely to be able to make any final decision on the CPCF until we have clarity on Covid costs: resolving these costs has been urgent for many months, and contractors’ questions must be answered and a satisfactory deal reached before we can move any further forwards on other matters.”

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