Community pharmacies in Wales will receive an additional £3.5m to cover costs incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has announced.
Vaughan Gething, minister for health and social care, said in a statement on 16 March 2021 that the funding was in addition to £5.6m that had been promised to the sector in December 2020.
He added that the Welsh government had also agreed to defer “further repayments against the £55m advance payment until the 2021–22 financial year … to support the cash flow situation for community pharmacies”.
Gething said the initial promise of £5.6m to community pharmacy contractors was “provided directly to contractors early in the new year, along with up to £0.6m to pharmacies’ service costs in delivering Government sourced seasonal influenza vaccines administered by pharmacies”.
“I am, today, very pleased to confirm that a further £3.5m will be provided to community pharmacy contractors, meeting CPW’s [Community Pharmacy Wales’s] formal proposal in full,” said Gething.
“In total, this means new money of £9.1m will have been allocated this financial year in recognition of the vital role pharmacies played during the height of the pandemic in all our communities, the length and breadth of Wales.”
Gething added that pharmacies commissioned under the Primary Care COVID-19 Immunisation Scheme “would be paid from additional funding”.
“On 1 March , the chief executive of the NHS wrote to health board chief executives advising them to put in place arrangements to contract with community pharmacies in their areas which are able to deliver a minimum of 100 appointments each week, managed through the health boards’ established booking systems,” he said.
The Pharmaceutical Journal previously revealed that some health boards in Wales have received interest from around half of community pharmacies, looking to provide COVID-19 vaccinations as part of the national programme.
Commenting on the additional funding, Mark Griffiths, chair of Community Pharmacy Wales, said contractors “are absolutely delighted that the Welsh government has met our claim for additional work delivered in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic during the spring of 2020”.
“We are grateful that the minister for health, Vaughan Gething, and the whole Welsh government have recognised our contribution in word, in deed and in totality.”
The announcement comes as the Department of Health and Social Care is still in talks with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) about covering COVID-related costs for pharmacies in England.
Jo Churchill, the pharmacy minister, told MPs on 11 March 2021 that she expects “to deduct any agreed funding from the £370m advance payments” given to the sector in England.
However, the PSNC has estimated the additional costs of COVID-19 to community pharmacies now amounts to more than £400m “and rising”.
Pharmacies in Scotland were given £5.5m in April 2020 “to help them cope with increased pressures from coronavirus”.