Community pharmacy teams in Wales could see a 4% pay uplift backdated to 1 April 2022, following a commitment from the government to increase contractual funding for the sector in 2022/2023.
In a letter to all community pharmacies dated 7 September 2022, Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, said that funding through the community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF) in 2022/2023 would increase by “a further 2% taking the increase in fees and allowances to 4% in total when compared with 2021/2022”.
This will increase annual CPCF funding from £154.2m to £157.2m, the letter said.
In 2020, the Welsh government announced a three-year deal that promised to increase funding by 2% from £151.2m in 2021/2022 to £154.2m in 2022/2023.
The uplift comes after health minister Eluned Morgan said in a statement on 22 July 2022 that staff working in community pharmacies should receive “a fair, proportionate and equitable pay uplift” in line with that offered to all NHS staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions.
In July 2022, the NHS Pay Review Body recommended increasing pay for all NHS Agenda for Change staff in England — including hospital pharmacists — by £1,400, which trade union Unite said “works out at 4% for those in the middle pay bands”.
In the letter, Evans said the health minister’s statement “was explicit in setting out the expectation that the funding increase would result in a pay uplift for community pharmacy teams”.
He added that the funding increase “is therefore conditional on each community pharmacy employer” providing a pay increase of at least 4% “to all directly employed staff involved in the direct provision of NHS pharmaceutical services” and be backdated from 1 April 2022.
“Any member of staff whose base annual salary is more than £45,839 may receive a pay increase of less than 4% provided the increase is at least £1,400 … in like with the pay award for NHS staff,” he said, adding that the government will “recover additional funding from contractors where pay increases have not been applied”.
The letter added that the funding would be “applied across the various elements of the CPCF”, including through clinical services, the pharmacist independent prescribing service and the quality and safety scheme.
Commenting on the added funding, Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, said: “While incentivising private community pharmacy contractors to increase pay by no worse than the government’s plans for their own employees is better than accepting that they may otherwise do worse than the NHS, this could also be seen as sending a message to those NHS employed pharmacists, who are also represented by the PDA, that the Welsh government is not listening to their response to the NHS pay proposal.
“Some community pharmacy employers are part of large profit making multinational corporations, who may have already decided to give this level of pay increase due to the pressures of recruitment and retention.
“In such scenarios, the Welsh government are reimbursing that spending, and this will prop up profit margins at those employers and not have any impact on pay rates.”
In August 2022, Unite began balloting hospital pharmacists in England and Wales on whether NHS staff should take industrial action over the government’s plan to increase pay by at least £1,400 in 2022/2023.