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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

Opening Hours

Cash RegisterFrom 1st April 2013, responsibility for administering opening hours for pharmacies will fall to the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB), which is likely to be handled locally by its Area Teams. For the purpose of this summary, we refer to the Area Teams, but recognising that the Regulations refer to the NHS CB itself.

A pharmacy has 40 core contractual hours (or 100 for those that have opened under that exemption from the necessary or expedient test), which cannot be amended without the consent of the Area Team, together with supplementary hours, which are all the additional opening hours, which can be amended by the pharmacy with 90 days notice (or less if the Area Team consents). A pharmacy may also have more than 40 core hours where it has made an application based on that higher number, and the NHSCB has agreed that application.

There is also a provision which allows a pharmacy to apply to open for less than 40 hours, but if the Area Team does grant such an application, it can specify which opening hours the pharmacy must open.

The terms of service require every pharmacy to send a return to the Area Team on request, specifying the opening hours (both core contractual and supplementary hours). This should not be needed as a matter of routine however, an Area Team may use this power to request a return, if there is any doubt about the actual opening hours.

In addition to the above regular opening hours, an Area Team can commission an out of hours Enhanced service. This service may operate under arrangements similar to the former rota arrangements throughout the year, or could be limited to bank holidays. For many pharmacies, participation in such arrangements is voluntary, but those pharmacies which opened under the exemptions for 100 hour pharmacies, those in approved large retail areas, and those in one stop primary care centres may have been required by the terms of their application, to provide any Advanced or Enhanced Services that were agreed during the course of the application where the Area Team commissions the service.

As a fall back position, if the needs of people in the area are not met, and no pharmacies are able or willing to participate in a locally commissioned out of hours Enhanced service, the Area Team has the power to issue a direction requiring the pharmacy to open, but must if doing so ensure the pharmacy receives reasonable remuneration. The process of issuing such a direction begins with discussions with the LPC and the affected contractors must be contacted by the Area Team and the proposals outlined so that the contractor can make representations. There are rights of appeal against Area Team decisions to issue such directions, and the direction would be valid only if the statutory procedure is followed. If you need advice on such a direction, consult your LPC (which the Area Team is required to consult before issuing such directions).

Changes to Core Contractual Hours

Changes to Core Supplementary Hours

Temporary Suspension of Pharmaceutical Services

Bank Holiday Opening Hours

Notification of Opening Intentions on Bank Holidays

Frequently Asked Questions


Support on Contractual Hours 

Pharmacy contractors can obtain support on issues surrounding contractual hours by contacting their LPC.

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