Applicants receive decisions on Pharmacy Access Scheme reviews

Applicants receive decisions on Pharmacy Access Scheme reviews

June 13, 2017

NHS England has confirmed that it has now responded to the majority of contractors who asked for their eligibility to receive payments under the Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) to be reviewed.

NHS England said that 71 additional pharmacies will now receive payments under the scheme. The successful pharmacies will receive payments backdated to the start of the scheme on 1st December 2016, and they have been sent a letter by NHS England confirming their status.

Other pharmacies have received letters confirming that the reviews of their applications have been completed and they are still not eligible for PhAS payments. The Drug Tariff states that: “Reviews will be administered and completed by NHS England; including the assessment of and decisions taken on all applications for appeals.” Those wishing to appeal or dispute a review decision are therefore advised to take this up with NHS England.

However, NHS England said that 15 applicants have not yet received final confirmation of the outcome of their application and will be informed by the end of June at the latest.

NHS England stated that purdah (which prevents civil servants from making announcements relating to the previous government during an election period) had prevented it from finishing this work sooner.

Background information on the PhAS

The Pharmacy Access Scheme was announced as part of the two-year final funding package imposed on community pharmacies in England in October 2016, offering additional funding to some pharmacies with the stated aim of ensuring that a baseline level of patient access to NHS community pharmacy services is protected.

NHS England identified the pharmacies that would be eligible to receive PhAS payments. A review process meant that contractors who were not identified by NHS England but believed they should be eligible to receive PhAS payments could ask NHS England to consider their case.

By the end of February, 370 community pharmacy contractors had submitted applications requesting a review of their pharmacy’s PhAS status. Initially, 171 of those contractors received a letter confirming that they would not be eligible for the payments. The majority have now been assessed for eligibility and sent a letter confirming the outcome of their application.

A full breakdown of applications and their outcomes will be published in due course, but NHS England said it had concluded that 71 more pharmacies were eligible to receive the funding.

LPS pharmacies

Many LPS pharmacies which have returned or will return to the pharmaceutical list are effectively excluded from possible PhAS payments by the rules as outlined in the Drug Tariff (i.e. the requirement to be on the pharmaceutical list on 1st September 2016 and, in most cases, needing to request a review before the end of February 2017).

PSNC is working with the Department of Health and NHS England to ensure that all LPS pharmacies are given proper consideration based on the aims of PhAS.

One note of caution is that those who may appear eligible for PhAS payments may not receive any additional funding on the basis of the Drug Tariff calculation. PhAS payments are not intended to replicate LPS payments and smaller volume pharmacies which did not receive, and therefore have not lost, part of the Establishment Payment may benefit from the higher Single Activity Fee.

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