The advance payment made to community pharmacists for prescription items dispensed in England is temporarily going up by 15p per item, in an unprecedented move by the government to help with pharmacies’ cash flow, national pharmacy negotiators have announced.
The increased advance — which applies to items actually dispensed in September — will be paid at the beginning of November, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) confirmed on 23 October 2017.
The increase, however, will apply for only one month. The full and final payment for services provided in September will be reconciled as usual at the end of November, PSNC said.
This means that contractors will not receive any additional funding overall, but the impact of the reduction expected to be seen in the 1 November payment — triggered by Drug Tariff price reductions from August — will be smoothed out, it said in a statement.
Details of the increased advance comes just two weeks after the PSNC asked pharmacy minister Steve Brine, to help pharmacies facing “catastrophic” cash flow problems caused by the continuing supply and pricing problems in the generics market.
PSNC warned the minister then that unless something was done, there was a risk that some pharmacies “may not survive” the cash flow “crisis.”
PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said: “The pharmacy minister has responded to PSNC’s request for urgent measures to offer contractors some relief and this unprecedented action will help many pharmacies to manage the cash flow crisis over the next few weeks. We are grateful for this positive response.
“We remain concerned though that there will be pharmacies for which this is too little, and that it may be too late.”
PSNC reiterated that three issues were behind the cash flow crisis — community pharmacy funding cuts, a reduction in reimbursement prices from this August, and the sharp rise in generic purchase prices.