Community pharmacy in Scotland will receive an extra £2.6m in funding in the 2019/2020 financial year, matching the increase it was awarded in the previous year.
The Scottish government has announced that the global remuneration sum, which covers fees and allowances, for 2019/2020 will be £183.6m and, with other forms of income, community pharmacies would be guaranteed remuneration of £224.7m in the 2019/2020 financial year.
The package also includes confirmation that the Pharmacy First scheme, which gives patients access to treatments for uncomplicated urinary tract infections and impetigo from a community pharmacy, has been integrated with the national minor ailments service. Funding for this element of the integrated service will remain at £1.1m per year. The Scottish government announced in September 2018 that it would be expanding its existing minor ailments service to make it available universally.
The funding decision was announced in a letter sent to NHS boards by Rose Marie Parr, chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland, on 23 April 2019. Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), which has been negotiating the package with the government, said in a statement that “the package could not be accepted by the CPS board”.
Despite this, the CPS said “there are, nevertheless, many outputs within this package that CPS were willing to accept, and it particularly welcomed “the commitment to Pharmacy First through the introduction of funding into guaranteed streams”. It said it would work with the Scottish government to ensure that the extended minor ailments service would be up and running from April 2020.
Aileen Bryson, deputy director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Scotland, also welcomed the increase in funding, and the further commitment to the national minor ailments service.
“The RPS supports the Scottish government’s vision for more people to use their community pharmacy as a first port of call and believes that the minor ailment service offers huge benefits to patients. We would like to see it offered to everyone across Scotland as a priority,” she said.
Rajshri Owen, head of professional and patient services at pharmacy wholesaler and community pharmacy membership company Numark, said although the funding announcement was welcome, “a longer period of funding assurance would have been favoured by Scottish contractors, particularly as we still remain uncertain how, when or even if Brexit will happen”.
Further details of the funding package are that the guaranteed minimum margin retained by contractors will be reduced from £100 in 2018/2019 to £80m for 2019/2020. But the letter from Parr says that, “dependent on market conditions”, community pharmacy contractors will keep 100% of the first £10m earned above that minimum. Margin earned above £90m will, the letter says, be shared on a 50:50 basis with NHS boards.
As with the 2018/2019 financial year, a sum of £20m will be set aside from the generic drugs tariff for guaranteed funding of an “agreed basket of targeted drugs”. This, the letter says, means that “the total amount of guaranteed remuneration in 2019/2020 will be £224.7m”.
The clawback on margin accumulated in 2018/2019 will between £18m and £20m, with the clawback rate set at 6% as of 1 April 2019.