The scheme is expected to be introduced in 2013-14 and will be voluntary for contractors.
It will enable them to receive advance payments for prescriptions dispensed on day 7 or 8 of the month following that in which the items were dispensed - i.e. a few days after submission of their prescriptions.
For example, for prescriptions dispensed in January, contractors would be able to access the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) advance payment on the 7th or 8th of February. The full and final payment would still be received at the end of March.
The earlier advance payments will be made via an intermediary finance house.
A charge will be applied to contractors electing to take advantage of this scheme, but the government has said that this will be considerably cheaper than commercial interest rates.
The aims of the scheme are to help contractors better manage cash flow and to enable them to settle their accounts more quickly.
Sue Sharpe, PSNC Chief Executive, said: “Anything that can help pharmacy contractors to better manage their cash flow in these tough economic times is good news, and as such we welcome this initiative from the government. If the levy terms are good enough, this could be a help to some businesses."
Commenting on his blog David Carter, Chairman of Gateshead & South Tyneside LPC welcomed the scheme but pointed out that Pharmacy payments should perhaps follow other commercial transactions and be paid after 30 days anyway.
Read more at his blog.