No cuts protection funding until after election

The Department of Health introduced a "near miss" review process for pharmacies in October
The Department of Health introduced a "near miss" review process for pharmacies in October
Pharmacies will have to wait for the outcome of the general election before receiving financial protection from the funding cuts, NHS England has said.

The Pharmacy Access Scheme is designed to protect pharmacies in England which are situated a mile or more from another pharmacy by road from the “full effect” of the cuts – as long as they are not in the top 25% best-performing businesses according to dispensing volume.

Last October, the Department of Health (DH) introduced a “near miss” process to review pharmacies that did not initially qualify for the scheme, but are affected by factors that could limit patient access.

NHS England began accepting applications from contractors in November and said it would aim to complete a review within six weeks.

However, in an email to lawyer Andrea James, partner at Knights Professional Services Limited, NHS England said an announcement about whether pharmacists have qualified for the funding would be "impossible" until after the results of the general election on June 8.

"We are awaiting the outcome of the judicial review into the reforms to community pharmacy contractual framework and we are now constrained by the general election," NHS England said in the email sent this afternoon (April 28), and seen by C+D.

"I am sorry that your application has been caught in these two pieces of process that now make an announcement about your application impossible until after the general election," it added.

Ms James – who is advising "a number" of pharmacists on their application for the funding scheme – said NHS England's mention of the judicial review was "very odd, if not misleading".

"NHS England issued decisions on [access scheme] applications in the run up and during the judicial review," she said."If they had determined all applications within the six week target timeframe – which expired on 11 April – the general election announcement would be irrelevant."

In March, the commissioner confirmed it had rejected each of the 78 applications from pharmacies it had reviewed so far.

C+D has contacted NHS England for comment on today's email.

2 Comments
Question: 
Have you applied to the Pharmacy Access Scheme?

Dilip Shah, Community pharmacist

This is another evidence  that NHS England does not understand how independent  pharmacies operate and does not care about the effect it will have on the local elderly and needy population.

The cuts  imposed are detrimental  to the cohesion and integration  of social care and the delivery of pharmaceutical care in the locality and it would cost millions to correct the error in judgement made for short term gain .

I sincerely hope the Judge preciding on the recent case in the courts sees the error in the way NHS England operates. 

Dave Downham, Manager

Great. So I'll let that new dispenser know that the application I sent off in mid-November still hasn't been looked at by the end of April and you'll still have to wait until mid-June at the highly unlikley very earliest. Some context would be useful - how many have applied? If 78 have been rejected, how many does that leave? Maybe by not giving the support this could hasten the demise of those pesky pharmacies hardest hit by the cuts.

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