Community Pharmacy Scotland rejects government’s funding offer for 2023/2024

The Community Pharmacy Scotland Board unanimously rejected the Scottish government's funding offer, saying it fears it "is not enough to keep our world-leading services running".
pharmacy shopfront

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has rejected an initial offer from the Scottish government for 2023/2024 funding for community pharmacy, following “protracted negotiations” that had run since September 2022.

In a statement, CPS described the negotiations as “largely collaborative”, and said that, in recent months, talks over the financial package for community pharmacy had “departed from the normal process of engagement, with conversations occurring in areas of government that CPS has no access to”.

The CPS Board unanimously rejected the government’s offer at an emergency meeting, and the CPS statement continued: “The funding package which may be imposed on our members, we fear, is not enough to keep our world-leading services running as they have been through the pandemic and beyond.”

In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal, Amanda Rae, head of policy and development at CPS, said: “We have had years of mutually respectful negotiations and settlements, with investment to support service development.

“This year’s offer undermines this and puts at risk all we have worked to achieve. If an improved offer is not forthcoming, the discussion will need to move to one around what the government can afford — a conversation we would rather not be having. There is a face-to-face meeting today [30 May 2023] but it is too early to tell what the outcome of this will be.”

Community pharmacies in Scotland had been working to CPS’s first ever three-year funding agreement with the government, which was agreed in 2020.

The remuneration global sum agreed for 2020/2021 was £188m, with a fixed percentage increase of 2.5% for each of the subsequent years of the deal.

Including the extra funding for the ‘Pharmacy First’ minor ailments scheme, guaranteed funding for community pharmacies in the first year of the deal was £258m.

In its statement announcing its rejection of the government’s funding offer, CPS said that Scotland’s network of pharmacies was “in serious financial trouble”.

“We know that some are taking to borrowing just to pay their wage bills — a situation which cannot continue”, the statement said, going on to warn that Scottish pharmacies’ groundbreaking work with Pharmacy First was also under strain.

“On top of around 9 million prescription items being supplied each month, we are proud to say that, since its launch in July 2020, our network has delivered well over 5 million NHS Pharmacy First Scotland consultations,” it said.

“Without proper funding, our plans to develop this service further would need to be reviewed and our entire offering renegotiated based on the available resource. No one wants this, least of all our members.”

The Scottish government did not provide comment in time for publication.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2023, Vol 310, No 7973;310(7973)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.187250

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