Treasury stance on Covid costs 'not in line with ministers' promises'

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Treasury stance on Covid costs 'not in line with ministers' promises'

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HM Treasury “has not moved from its original position” on how pharmacies should be compensated for the impact of Covid-19 on their business, the PSNC has said, adding that this position "is not in line with ministers' promises" to the sector. 

In a statement this afternoon (Tuesday February 9), the PSNC said that following an initial funding offer which it had rejected in the summer as “too limited,” it has continued to provide data to the Government on the impact of factors such as staffing, the cost of implementing social distancing measures, and the reduction in income from services and retail sales.

The PSNC’s position is that the £370m in advance payments received by pharmacies in 2020 should be written off against these costs “many of which are still ongoing”.

The PSNC says that while it has not yet received a formal response to additional evidence it presented in the autumn, officials from the Department of Health and Social Care “have now indicated to us that HMT has not moved from its original position”.

The negotiator said it is “deeply concerned” about the impact a clawback of the £370m advance funding could have on the sector and patients.

PSNC chief Simon Dukes, who recently said that Government intransigence is forcing the negotiator to air its frustrations in public, told contractors: “You have been the buffer for the NHS. You have absorbed the costs of doing that in good faith, and despite the exhaustion of your teams you are also now pushing hard to be recognised as a key provider of COVID-19 vaccinations. There is nothing more you could do.

“The Committee is deeply frustrated by the difference between our viewpoint and that of HMT officials: we believe the HMT position is not in line with ministers’ promises, and we also believe that DHSC and NHS England & Improvement are failing in their duty to protect the sector financially.

“PSNC spent time action planning at its meeting last week and we believe, regrettably, that alongside our ongoing private discussions with Government and officials, community pharmacy will increasingly need to go public with its concerns.

“For PSNC this will focus on two areas: firstly we need to make even more noise to showcase the value of what pharmacies do; and secondly we must publicly hold HMG and NHSE&I to account for their funding decisions and the impact that those can have on patients. This must be an ongoing and cross-sector effort.”

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