The “vast majority” of contractors will receive the total amount they have claimed for in Covid-related costs from the Treasury, the PSNC has said.
Speaking at today’s LPC conference, outgoing PSNC chief Simon Dukes said 95 per cent of contractors “will be paid their claims in full” from the NHS BSA in October, though he acknowledged that they “could still be subject to post-payment verification”.
“For a very small number – around five per cent – whose claims form an outlier in someway, we expect they will still receive a payment but they will be contacted individually by NHS BSA with regard to the detail.”
“Having this money will provide a much-needed financial certainty for the vast majority of contractors,” he said, adding: “Overall we believe this is a fair outcome for contractors.”
He confirmed once more that the total amount claimed by England’s contractors has “far exceeded the original Government cap of £120m” but did not reveal the full sum, saying “a lot of the detail is still being worked through” and the final arrangements will be announced “as soon as we can”.
Prior to agreeing the costs claims arrangement with the Government, the negotiator had pushed for a £370m cash advance made to the sector in 2020 to be written off against pharmacies’ Covid-related expenses.
Asked when negotiations for the fourth year of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework were likely to begin, Mr Dukes said: “The PSNC committee has been very clear we won’t enter year four negotiations until we have conducted the annual review process for years one and two, and the first half of year three.”
It is “unlikely we will be starting [year four talks] much before November,” he said.
Asked what the sector’s contractual arrangements might look like when the present contract ends in 2024, he said: “There may not be a five-year deal, that’s not necessarily a given.”
“A lot of focus will be on costs and capacity, with rising salaries, increasing national insurance and inflation. Clearly, contractors are being squeezed far more than was ever envisaged.
“The lack so far of any appearance of those capacity-releasing initiatives that were written into that 2019 document means we need to rely almost entirely on the ability of pharmacy teams to do more, basically,” he said, adding that the negotiator has captured a “huge amount” of data to inform post-2024 negotiations and has commissioned research from “external partners” to support this.