PSNC asks contractors to reconsider free provision of non-CPCF services

PSNC asks contractors to reconsider free provision of non-CPCF services

August 21, 2020

PSNC has called on community pharmacy contractors to stop the free of charge provision of services that fall clearly outside the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).

The call from PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes follows reports from contractors who are increasingly being asked to pick up primary care work which would normally fall outside of pharmacies’ funded services.

Much of this work has been prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and it has included:

  • Taking blood pressure measurements for patients;
  • Helping patients to use other health monitoring equipment;
  • Delivering medicines to vulnerable or housebound patients (outside of the Government’s scheme for shielded patients and the Drug Tariff provisions for specified appliances); and
  • Helping patients with reordering repeat prescriptions and liaising with practices.

This work is not funded via the CPCF and contractors have the right to charge people for some of these services. They could also choose to say that they are unable to provide this help.

Alongside these tasks, contractors report that they are now seeing and supporting an increasing number of patients with a wide range of conditions that fall outside of minor health conditions and the usual support offered by pharmacies. This often includes the diagnosis of serious conditions and significant support for patients needing more comprehensive public and mental health advice.

PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the UK we have heard from many contractors about the significant increases to their workload and the range of new ways in which they have had to support their patients and local communities. While some of this work is a core part of community pharmacy’s remit as a key local healthcare resource for local communities, other tasks now being asked of pharmacies fall outside the scope for which they are remunerated.

PSNC has put a comprehensive business case to HM Government about contractors’ costs related to COVID-19 and we are in negotiation about that. We are also working to make the case for further funding uplifts. Thank you to all contractors who have provided evidence to support this.

However, to date, with no further funding available, I have to advise contractors that given the very treacherous financial situation which many pharmacies are in, it is simply not possible for many to continue to offer extra services free of charge.

This advice is not given lightly – of course all community pharmacies want to do all that they can for the benefit of their patients. But as a sector we have for many years offered services free of charge or at a tariff that does not even cover our costs, and this simply is not sustainable in the current funding environment. Without action to balance costs, the core professional services of pharmacies may all be at risk, and this would have a significant and detrimental impact on patients which must be avoided.

Many businesses have already taken decisions to introduce charges for some services on a cost recovery basis, and I would encourage contractors to explore this option where they can.”

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