Community pharmacies in Scotland receive £20m cash injection

Additional funding is being given to ease pressures on community pharmacies that have been created by price increases in medicines.
medicines on shelf

Community pharmacies in Scotland will receive a £20m “interim cash injection” from the government during the remainder of 2023/2024, pharmacy negotiators have announced.

In a statement published on 31 May 2023, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) said the additional funding aims “to ease pressures related to medicines price increases on community pharmacy businesses”.

The funding comes after CPS rejected the government’s initial offer of funding for 2023/2024 at an emergency meeting on 25 May 2023.

CPS said at the time that the initial offer was “not enough” to keep services running, adding that the cost of medicines was of particular concern as “NHS income is barely covering wholesaler bills in many cases”.

In its latest statement, CPS said the £20m “is welcome at a time when some of our members report having to borrow to keep their doors open and support their local community’s healthcare needs”.

However, it added that the money is still “not sufficient to cover the increase in cost of common medicines”.

“To give some perspective on this, while £20m appears to be a very big number, it represents only 1.74% of the annual medicine spend for Scotland. We have had reports that costs have increased by over three times this amount,” it said.

“That is why our negotiations must continue and a much-improved offer must be forthcoming from government colleagues to ensure that current service levels are maintained and access to healthcare is provided.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish government clarified that the £20m is a recurring increase in the total value of the Scottish Drug Tariff, not an interim offer.

“Community pharmacies are a key point of access to NHS healthcare,” they said, adding that “discussions are ongoing with CPS on the financial settlement for 2023/2024”. 

“Our priority is to ensure that patients can access their prescription medicines and services, such as NHS Pharmacy First Scotland, while balancing our financial obligations.” 

Pharmacies in England have also faced increasing medicine costs, with some reporting financial losses on medicines “that are above the drug tariff reimbursement value”.

As a result, the government agreed to write off £100m of excess margin by increasing generic drug tariff prices from October 2022.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2023, Vol 310, No 7974;310(7974)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.187531

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