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CPE: ‘Unclear’ when fee arrangements for 2024-25 will be revealed


CPE: ‘Unclear’ when fee arrangements for 2024-25 will be revealed

With the official term of the 2019-24 contractual framework for England’s pharmacies lapsing at the beginning of April this year, Community Pharmacy England is advising contractors that there will be no change to their fee levels or service arrangements until a new agreement is reached.

In a March 28 statement, the negotiator said talks for 2024-25 are “still in progress” with no update yet available on the status of CPE’s key demands, which include an increase on the £2.592 annual global sum, margin write-offs and an “agreed mechanism” giving pharmacies “regular funding increases” linked to activity and inflation, as well as “fundamental reform” of the margin delivery system.

“Until these negotiations have concluded, fee levels will remain the same and existing service arrangements will continue as previously announced,” said CPE, adding that it “is not yet clear” when talks will conclude.

“Any adjustments to fees or margin needed to deliver the total funding sum for 2024-2 will be made later in the year once these critical negotiations have concluded,” the negotiator added.

In a separate statement on the same day, CPE railed against a new approach to concessions pricing being introduced with the April Drug Tariff – a move it said was “imposed by the Government without our agreement” despite CPE’s fierce opposition to the “untested” changes.

“While it is unclear exactly how the Department’s changes will work in practice, any further pressure on pharmacies to dispense at a loss will have very serious consequences for the sector, patient and the wider primary care system,” the negotiator warned as it urged pharmacy contractors to report price rises to it as usual.

Commenting on the “complex negotiation” for the 2024-25 contract, which is taking place against a backdrop of “constrained public spending”, CPE chief executive Janet Morrison said the “positive spin” from policymakers on the introduction of Pharmacy First “is completely at odds with the deeply distressing truth”.

“This is a sector on its knees, with the current wave of closures and financial losses likely to continue unless and until Government and the NHS change course,” Ms Morrison said, adding that with the coming general election likely to be followed by a “rapid” spending review, “we are ready to fight hard for pharmacy”.

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