July saw the announcement by PSNC of the long-awaited community pharmacy funding settlement. The agreement covers a 5-year period from the current 2019/20 financial year through to 2023/24.
PSNC, DHSC and NHSE&I have agreed the contract sum will remain unchanged at £2.592bn for the entire period from 2019/20 to 2023/24 distributed through a combination of fees and retained margin. The proportions remain unchanged at £1.792bn for fees and £800m in retained margin. The Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) will also continue in its current design with total funding of £24m a year until March 2020.
There are also a number of major changes in the new contract which can be summarised as follows:
- The Single Activity Fee (SAF) will increase by 1p to £1.27 from August 2019.
- Category M prices will increase by £15m a month from August 2019.
- Transitional fees will be paid from October 2019. The level of fees has not yet been finalised but will be included in the October 2019 Drug Tariff.
- A new contractual advanced service, the NHS Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) will be introduced nationally from October 2019. This will REPLACE the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS) as well as local Digital Minor Illness Referral Services (DMIRS). The fee to pharmacy for the new serviced will be £14 per consultation. Rapid roll-out will be encouraged with a £900 incentive payment available to pharmacies signing up to provide the service by 1st December 2019, or £600 for those signing up by 15th January 2020.
- A new Pharmacy Quality Scheme is being introduced (formerly known as Quality Payments Scheme). This will allow pharmacies to earn additional payments on meeting specific quality criteria. Total funding for the scheme will continue at £75m per year. Some elements of the quality payments scheme will become Terms of Service until the Community Pharmacy Contract Framework (CPCF) from April 2020.
- Pharmacies will receive monthly transitional payments in the second half of 2019/20 and 2020/21 to meet costs associated with:
- Change and integration into Primary Care Networks (PCNs)
- Preparation for Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs)
- Implementation of Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD)
- Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) will be phased out over the next 2 years. These will, in future, be undertaken by Clinical Pharmacists in General Practice.
- Establishment payments will be phased out by 2020/21.