Following discussions with Community Pharmacy Scotland, the Scottish government has agreed to a six per cent rise in the global fund allocation for community pharmacies in 2023-24, bringing the total remuneration to approximately £219.5 million.
A finalised agreement has been reached with Community Pharmacy Scotland for a one-year funding package for the financial year 2023-24, as stated in a Scottish government circular distributed to community pharmacy contractors and NHS Boards on August 4.
The circular said this settlement will lead to the most substantial increment ever approved for the community pharmacy network.
“The global sum remuneration will be £219.533 million, signifying a 6 per cent increase from the previous year and setting the groundwork for 2024/25,” stated Professor Alison Strath, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland, in the document. “The guaranteed income from the drug tariff will remain at £80 million for the financial year, without yearly changes.”
However, the current level of guaranteed minimum income has increased by £15.95 million (19 per cent) to £100 million. “The delivery of the guaranteed minimum income will be closely monitored monthly throughout the year and further action to support contractor cashflow will be considered if appropriate,” Strath added.
As per the circular, details about margin sharing arrangements will be furnished in the upcoming weeks, guided by findings from the Scottish Government’s community pharmacy regular pricing inquiry report.
According to the document, community pharmacy contractors will receive a one-off payment from an agreed fund of £1.66 million. “Payment will be calculated based on the activity in the April dispensing pool. This payment will adhere to a schedule where it’s processed in June but will be distributed or paid out in August. This acknowledges the absence of a drug tariff adjustment for April 2023.”
Community Pharmacy Scotland described the agreement as mutually beneficial, offering a more stable financial perspective for pharmacies following a demanding 2022-23 characterised by financial, workforce, and workload pressures. “This guaranteed minimum income comes from the reimbursement aspect of our financial structure. It represents the lowest amount we consider acceptable this year from the Tariff, designed to aid the expenses of service provision throughout our financial framework,” said CPS.
“We are currently working with Scottish government to fine-tune the details of how we would handle underperformance, aiming for this to be a responsive measure to protect our cashflow,” CPS added.
The new funding agreement for 2023-24, involving over 1,200 community pharmacies, was initially announced on July 21. However, specific details weren’t made public until two weeks later.
During his UCL School of Pharmacy Lecture in June, CPS CEO Professor Harry McQuillan urged UK pharmacists to prioritise ‘safety of supply’ over ‘accuracy of supply’ for patients. He emphasised investing in teams, technology, and embracing a more clinical future to ensure maximum benefits from prescribed medicines.