Cat M to increase by £10m from April under interim funding arrangement

Funding for England’s pharmacies will remain at its current level of £2.592 billion on an interim basis, but category M prices will increase “as reductions to recover excess margin…come to an end”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said this afternoon (March 8).

Since November, contractors have faced a reduction of 3p in the single activity fee – from £1.29 to £1.26 – and a category M clawback of £10m a month. 

As part of the interim funding arrangements, the number of medicine use reviews (MURs) pharmacies can deliver will be capped at 200 from April 1 to September 30, PSNC said.

Pharmacies will still be able to claim funding under the Pharmacy Access Scheme, but no further Quality Payments Scheme requirements have been set.

“The interim arrangements have been put in place to cover the period from April until negotiations on future pharmacy funding have concluded,” PSNC explained this afternoon.

It expects negotiations for the 2019-20 contract to begin “before Easter” and any substantial changes to be agreed and implemented from October.

Steve Brine: Pharmacy’s “important” role

Pharmacy minister Steve Brine said he “looks forward to discussions with PSNC on how the community pharmacy contractual framework can support community pharmacy’s further integration into primary care networks, and enable us to better utilise the skill set and reach of pharmacy teams”.

Community pharmacy has “an important role to play” in implementing the NHS long-term plan, he added.

PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said: “We are pleased that the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England expect to be in a position to begin negotiations on community pharmacy shortly.

“We are looking forward to exploring with them developments that will ensure that community pharmacies can play a key part in the developing primary care systems for the benefit of patients.”

Author: Lorraine Oliver