Simon Dukes, CEO, PSNC

Amid media speculations that the government was considering writing off advance payments to community pharmacy in England, PSNC tonight (Nov 13) issued a statement to say that it has not yet received “a funding offer that will fully compensate contractors”.

The pharmacy negotiator said it recently rejected a government offer which it found to be “too limited” and has instead made a counter-proposal.

The sums on what the government was proposing “were not sufficient”, the pharmacy negotiator said, adding that “contractors must not be asked to provide evidence of historical costs, as had been proposed.”

“Despite the phenomenal work that has taken place across the community pharmacy sector during the pandemic, and the support that we know the sector has from health ministers, the proposal attempted to constrain the amount of compensation that was offered to pharmacy businesses and PSNC was unable to accept this,” PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said.

The PSNC also believed that the proposal was not in line with ministers’ pledges to give the NHS whatever it needs during the pandemic, as it would not have allowed contractors to claim compensation for all the impacts that their businesses have felt.

The pharmacy negotiator restated its position that contractors must be compensated for the full impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their businesses. “We are waiting for a response to our latest proposal on Covid-19 costs, in which we propose a write-off of the £370m advance payments against the costs of Covid-19 to contractors for a fixed period, and also to our separate bid for an uplift to CPCF (Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework) funding.”

Community pharmacy has received £370m in advance payments to mitigate Covid-related costs.  PSNC has maintained that while the “cash injection has been extremely welcome”, community pharmacy contractors must not now be forced to pay this back as they try to cope with the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.

It put a counter-proposal to the government in October, asking for the £370m in advance payments to be written off against the costs of Covid-19 to contractors for a particular period of time. It still awaits a response to that proposal.

Dukes revealed that his team’s high-level negotiations with government officials on community pharmacy contractors’ Covid-19 related costs have been difficult.

He said: “Negotiations are continuing and we are looking for ways to work constructively with HM Government and the NHS on the many challenges they face, but PSNC cannot accept any less than full reimbursement for pharmacies of their COVID-related costs.

“There is quite simply nothing more that pharmacies could be doing to help their local communities, support the NHS and provide value to government, and in the past months we have presented this case as business data, analysis, projections, case studies and strong value arguments to officials.”

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