Contract funding negotiations suffer further delays

By News team

Funding negotiations for the community pharmacy contract in England are still ongoing and are unlikely to be finalised in the immediate future, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has announced (31 January 2013).

The negotiators are working to secure a multi-year funding agreement based on the cost of service inquiry with the aim of providing some longer-term business confidence for contractors.

PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe acknowledged that the ongoing delays are disappointing and will cause frustration and concern for contractors.

However, she said: “The message from pharmacy has been very clear: community pharmacy contractors need some certainty in future funding; a settlement at this point for 2012-13 alone would not be in the sector’s best interests.

“It is with this in mind that [the] PSNC is seeking a multi-year agreement on funding, and we believe this is achievable. We had been optimistic that an agreement could be reached in late 2012, but is now clear that more time will be needed to ensure the agreement of the emerging NHS Commissioning Board as well as the Department of Health.”

She added that it may not be possible to complete the negotiations before the end of March, but funding adjustments that result from the eventual outcome can be made at a later date. “In recent years funding settlements for the year have not been confirmed until the late summer, and we would expect negotiations to be concluded before then,” she told PJ Online.

Bharat Patel, independent contractor and member of the PSNC negotiating team, said: “Given the financial consequences the agreement will have on all our businesses, we need to take as much time as we need. It is far more important to get this right than it is to get it done quickly.”

He added: “It is also vital that we stay focused on securing a multi-year agreement. One of the main challenges for pharmacy businesses, and in particular independents, is planning, so having certainty in funding for a number of years would be extremely welcome. We must have that longer-term confidence in our businesses if we are to rise to the many new challenges that the reformed NHS will present.”

The PSNC has produced a list of on the ongoing funding negotiations.

Why is it taking so long?

The PSNC says that the negotiations are complex and are taking place in a tough environment, where every part of the NHS is expected to demonstrate savings of at least 4 per cent. It adds that it must ensure that it is making the best case possible and securing the best result for contractors. In addition, any multi-year agreement must be accepted by the NHS Commissioning Board, which will be responsible for commissioning national pharmacy services from April 2013. The NHSCB is only just taking shape and many of the relevant people are not yet in post. 

Citation: The Salvadore DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11116325

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