Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS)

Published on: 23rd December 2021 | Updated on: 30th March 2022

Access archived information from the 2016 PhAS

An updated Pharmacy Access Scheme (revised PhAS) starts from January 2022, to continue to support patient access to isolated, eligible pharmacies. It is funded to no more than £20 million from the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).

Eligibility for PhAS continues to be based on both the dispensing volume of the pharmacy, and distance from the next nearest pharmacy, although there are changes to the detailed eligibility criteria. Payments have changed from the 2016 scheme and are now based on a bell curve distribution, with, for example, larger volume dispensing pharmacies receiving lower PhAS payments. A provisional list of eligible pharmacies is available here. Contractors will have received a letter indicating if their pharmacy is eligible for the revised scheme.

A limited review process will be available from January 2022 for contractors who wish to dispute the accuracy of the distance calculation. The review process is also available on the basis of a physical feature anomaly. If a review is successful, PhAS payments will be backdated to the start of the scheme. For eligible pharmacies, PhAS payments are dependent on registration on the NHS Business Services Authority’s (NHSBSA’s) Manage Your Service (MYS) platform to provide the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS). For the start of the scheme, registration is necessary by 31 December 2021. Read the contractor review guidance here.

Detailed information on the revised 2021/22 PhAS is available from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) here. The NHSBSA also has also provided information about the scheme.

PSNC has issued a briefing that covers the key points of the revised PhAS and the review process: PSNC Briefing 033/21: Pharmacy Access Scheme starting from January 2022 

Eligibility for the PhAS

There are some changes from the 2016 scheme

Eligibility is now:

  • based on pharmacies on the pharmaceutical list on 31st March 2021, rather than 1st September 2016;
  • based on a narrower dispensing volume range – there is a collar (a minimum of 1,200 SAFs per year) and a cap (the maximum sized pharmacy supported is reduced from the 75th percentile to the 70th percentile);
  • automatic for former ‘near miss’ pharmacies – those in very deprived areas (top 20% of the Index of Multiple Deprivation) that are more than 0.8 of a mile from the next nearest pharmacy (previously these were the subject of a review application to NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I));
  • now conditional on ongoing registration for and provision of CPCS from 31st December 2021; and
  • now only for pharmacies that are directly accessible to the public, so, for example, those beyond airport security will not be eligible.

Eligibility remains:

  • based on both volume and distance criteria;
  • based on a static scheme, the pharmaceutical list of a certain date, 31st March 2021;
  • based on a distance of more than 1 mile from the next nearest pharmacy in most cases and more than 0.8 of a mile in the most deprived areas;
  • unavailable to appliance contractors, distance selling pharmacies and Local Pharmaceutical Services (LPS) contractors;
  • possible for former LPS pharmacies returning to the pharmaceutical list (these will be considered as if they were on the pharmaceutical list on 31st March 2021);
  • protected PhAS eligibility for those pharmacies that were more than 1 mile from the next nearest pharmacy based on the 2016 distance calculation, if there are no other changes regarding eligibility;
  • the road distance, including footpaths, based on the Ordnance Survey Road network data; and
  • broadly, for those eligible at the start of the revised PhAS, they remain eligible until the next update of the scheme, even if their dispensing volume or distance measurement changes – but with exceptions (e.g. a pharmacy that moves permanently may become ineligible for PhAS on the distance calculation to the next nearest pharmacy)

An eligibility flowchart is available here

Deemed Eligible List

Applying the PhAS criteria means that 1,406 pharmacies qualify for the updated PhAS. These are detailed in the list published on the 27th August 2021 by DHSC.

LPS Pharmacies

The revised PhAS is not a replacement to the statutory scheme for LPS pharmacies. LPS pharmacies may be commissioned by NHSE&I where a pharmacy is considered essential for the community but is not viable under the CPCF, even with PhAS eligibility and payments.

Funding and Payment

The scheme is paid for from the funding for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF). The PhAS is an additional monthly payment made to all eligible pharmacies in areas where there are fewer pharmacies. The maximum expenditure on the 2022 PhAS will be £20 million per financial year. The 2022 PhAS will apply from 1 January 2022 and run until the next PhAS review.

Payments are now:

  • banded and based on a bell curve – previously they were based on a top-up to income (to reduce the impact of funding cuts) minus an efficiency saving;
  • for smaller pharmacies (based on dispensing volume), increase with activity up to a maximum payment of £17,500 per year; and
  • for larger pharmacies, decrease as volume increases as the support they are considered to require reduces (previously larger pharmacies usually received larger PhAS payments).

Payments will continue to be paid monthly to eligible pharmacies in accordance with the provisions of the Drug Tariff

Review process

There are two grounds on which a review may be sought, for a contractor to argue that their pharmacy should be considered eligible for the updated 2022 PhAS:

  • inaccuracies in pharmacy premises location (for example if the pharmacy address was incorrect or the distance from the next pharmacy was calculated incorrectly) and,
  • physical feature anomalies (such as a semi-permanent roadblock or a steep hill) meaning the viable route between two pharmacies is not as represented in the modelling

These grounds for review are similar to those for the 2016 scheme. However, the former third ground, ‘near miss’ reviews, is no longer applicable because these pharmacies are automatically eligible in the revised PhAS.

Read the DHSC/NHSE&I 2022 Pharmacy access scheme (PhAS): contractor guidance on submitting an eligibility review application – distance grounds only guidance here.


PhAS 2022

Q. What is the 2022 Pharmacy Access Scheme (PHAS 2022)?
A scheme which seeks to protect patient access with an additional monthly payment to qualifying or eligible pharmacies that are isolated/further away from other pharmacies.

Q. When does the new 2022 Pharmacy Access Scheme (PHAS 2022) start?
PhAS 2022 will start on 1 January 2022

Q. When is the PhAS payment made, for the first and subsequent months?
The PhAS payment for January will be made with the reconciliation payment in April 2022 and similarly after this.

Q. Where can I find out more information about PhAS 2022?
PSNC brief guidance on the scheme is here and fuller DHSC guidance is here. More information is also available in the Drug Tariff Part XIIA

Q.Do I have to apply for PhAS 2022?
No. Contractors do not need to apply to the scheme to be eligible.

Q. How are distances measured in PhAS 2022?
By road distance based on Ordnance Survey, rather than as the crow flies, which includes taking account of footpaths.

Q. If I was eligible for PhAS previously, will I automatically be eligible for PhAS now?
No. A pharmacy that was eligible for PhAS may not be eligible for PhAS 2022. The scheme requirements for PhAS 2022 are different to the earlier scheme and, for example, a pharmacy may have changed location, a new pharmacy opened or another pharmacy relocated nearby; or the IMD decile of the pharmacy or dispensing volume may have changed.

Q. Does PhAS 2022 funding come from the global sum?
Yes, and the maximum expenditure is currently £20 million per financial year.

Q. Can I be ineligible because the dispensing volume of my pharmacy is too big or too small?
Yes. Eligibility is partly based on the number of Single Activity Fees (SAFs) in the year 2019 to 2020.

Q. Are distance selling pharmacies in PhAS 2022?
No. The scheme protects physical access to bricks and mortar community pharmacies.

Q. How long will the new PhAS last?
DHSC will continue to monitor the revised scheme and consider whether further updates and revisions are required, from April 2023 at the earliest.

PhAS review 2022

Q. What is the review process? 
The process considers whether there are any (i) inaccuracies in distance calculations, or (ii) any unforeseen circumstances or exceptional geographical factors affecting patient access, like a road closure, that mean the pharmacy should be eligible for PhAS 2022.

Q. Can any contractor seek a review?
No, reviews may be sought for two grounds only, which are primarily related to the distance calculation. Contractors must meet all other eligibility criteria.

Q. What are the two grounds for a contractor to apply for a review?
Inaccuracies (for example if the pharmacy postcode is incorrect or the distance from the next pharmacy is calculated incorrectly). Second, physical feature anomalies (such as a semi-permanent roadblock meaning two pharmacies are then more than 1 mile from each other).

Drug Tariff Part XIIA – Pharmacy Access Scheme (England)

Q. Who manages the review process?
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) manages the review process.

Q. How can I make a review?
Applications for review must be made via NHSE &I PhAS review online portal. Contractors will only be able to access the portal if they have been issued with a unique identifier access code. This code is the same one issued to access the PhAS online mapping tool. PSNC understands that the codes are being sent again to contractors with pharmacies eligible for review.

Q. Have I been informed that I can apply for a review?
Yes. Contractors eligible for PhAS except for distance received a letter in September this year explaining this. That letter included an access code to the mapping portal used by DHSC.

Q. How do I access the review portal?
This access code to the mapping portal that you received previously (see the above question and answer) is the login for the NHSE&I web review portal.

Q. For how long is the review application window open?
The review application window for contractors to submit applications is between 4th January 2022 and midnight on 4th February 2022.

Q. Can I use evidence previously submitted for the (2016) PhAS?
Yes. You can submit this evidence and any additional evidence as part of your application for review for this new scheme, PhAS 2022, if it remains relevant

Q. When will I be informed of the outcome of my review?
Subject to the overall number of applications received, it is envisaged that all contractors will have been informed about the outcome of their review by the end of May 2022. Contractors may be informed earlier.

Q. How is the distance measurement calculated?
The analysis to establish walking distances between pharmacies is underpinned by the UK national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey (OS) mapping products for official addressing (Ordnance Survey AddressBase) to locate pharmacies from address details, and for highways routing networks (Ordnance Survey MasterMap Highways Network Roads and Paths) datasets to create the walking routes. The respective datasets were the versions extracted on 31 March 2021 according to OS product revision cycle for each dataset. The analysis to generate the walking routes between pharmacies was undertaken using the ESRI ArcGIS software products ArcGIS Pro and related Network Analyst Extension.

(Drug Tariff Part XIIA – Pharmacy Access Scheme (England)

Q. Will another distance measurement be accepted?
No. Contractors wishing to apply for a review are required to use the mapping analysis undertaken as described above held in the mapping portal. Distance calculations using other maps (for example, Google Maps) will not be accepted.

Q. Do I have to be registered to provide the CPCS to be able to receive PHAS payments?

Q. When do I have to be registered with CPCS to receive my first payment for January 2022?
A condition for the first PhAS payment is that contractors must be registered on the Manage Your Service (MYS) platform to provide the CPCS by 31 December 2021.

Q. Do I have to continue to provide CPCS to be eligible for PhAS payments?
Yes. For the pharmacy contractor to continue to receive the monthly PhAS payment as part of their reconciliation payment, they must have been registered to provide the CPCS on the MYS platform for greater than or equal to half of the number of full days in the relevant month.

Q. May I make multiple review applications?
No, you may make only one application. Your access code will allow you to access the portal as many times you need to, however once the review application has been submitted your portal access code will be deactivated.

Q. Why do I have to submit my application and then upload evidence?
The application process is designed this way – a separate system for uploading evidence – to ensure you can upload as much supporting evidence as you want.

Q. If I pause my review application half-way through, will it be saved?
No. If you pause your application, the data will be lost and you will need to start it again.

Q. Can I use the link to upload my supporting evidence at a later time or date?
No. You cannot return to the link at a later date, it will no longer be available. You must upload your supporting evidence immediately.

Q. Can I still access the mapping tool?                         
Yes, you can still access the mapping tool here PhaS Mapping Portal

If you have any queries or require more information please contact PSNC’s Regulations and Support team.

Return to the CPCF changes 2021/22 and hub page

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