An additional 71 pharmacies will now receive payments under the Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS), it has emerged.
The PhAS was introduced on 1 December 2016 to protect 1,300 pharmacies against the full effects of the community pharmacy funding cuts in England. Pharmacies were considered eligible for the scheme if they were more than a mile away from another pharmacy; if they were on the pharmaceutical list as of 1 September 2016; and they were not in the top 25% largest pharmacies by dispensing volume.
Originally, 1,356 pharmacies qualified for the payments but 370 pharmacies not on the initial list applied to NHS England to have their cases reviewed by demonstrating that the local population relies on them and would be materially affected by their closing. A near-miss criterion was also applied to pharmacies located in the 20% most deprived areas of England and meant that pharmacies with 0.8 miles or more distance from the next closest pharmacy were entitled for a review.
Applications were on hold during the pre-election purdah but NHS England has now confirmed that it has already responded to the majority of applications.
“This review process has now concluded and as a result 71 more pharmacies have been found to be eligible to receive additional funding,” said a spokesperson from NHS England. “The aim of the Pharmacy Access Scheme is to ensure that a baseline level of patient access to NHS community pharmaceutical services in England is protected.”
The successful pharmacies will receive payments backdated to the start of the scheme on 1 December 2016 and NHS England has written to them to confirm their status.
Those pharmacies who were unsuccessful will also have been notified and advised to direct any appeals or disputes back to NHS England. NHS England has now written to 171 pharmacies confirming the outcome of their application and another 15 pharmacies will be informed by the end of June 2017, at the latest.
A full breakdown of applications and their outcomes will be published shortly.