PhAS: Pharmacy Access Scheme
On 20th October 2016, as part of the two-year final funding package imposed upon community pharmacies in England, the Department of Health (DH) confirmed the introduction of a Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS), with the stated aim of ensuring that a baseline level of patient access to NHS community pharmacy services is protected.
DH states that the PhAS will protect access in areas where there are fewer pharmacies with higher health needs, so that no area need be left without access to NHS community pharmaceutical services.
Qualifying pharmacies will receive an additional payment, meaning those pharmacies will be protected from the full effect of the reduction in funding from December 2016.
Pharmacies do not need to apply to the scheme to be eligible; eligibility has been calculated nationally by DH, based on data relating to how many prescription items a pharmacy dispensed in 2015/16, to assess their size and data relating to the distances between pharmacies.
A pharmacy will be eligible for the PhAS if it meets all of the following three criteria:
- the pharmacy is more than a mile away from its nearest pharmacy (measured by road distance);
- the pharmacy is on the pharmaceutical list as at 1 September 2016; and
- the pharmacy is not in the top 25% largest pharmacies by dispensing volume.
The scheme will run from 1 December 2016 to 31 March 2018.
During this time, eligibility will be fixed to the pharmacies that are deemed eligible in the list published on 20 October 2016.
Distance-selling pharmacies (e.g. internet pharmacies) are not included in the scheme; this is because the scheme is intended to protect physical access to bricks and mortar pharmacies. Pharmacies that hold local pharmaceutical services (LPS) contracts with NHS England have not been included in the scheme, because their contracts are funded outside of the CPCF, although they may receive similar payments depending on the terms of their contracts. Appliance contractors and dispensing doctors are also not included in the scheme.
A review process has been included in the scheme to allow for consideration of extenuating circumstances which may mean that access is not being protected in the way intended by the scheme.
DH guidance on PhAS confirms that applications for review will need to be made within three months of the start of the scheme (1st December 2016) and reviews will be administered by NHS England. Applications for review will be accepted from 1st November 2016 and NHS England aim to complete a review within six weeks of receiving a request.
NHS England have now published further details about the application for review process.
Please see this flowchart for details of what that process will involve.
Further detail on the PhAS and review eligibility criteria and pharmacies on the PhAS scheme are available on the PSNC website: