Government extends VAT exemption for pharmacists

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The VAT exemption for pharmacists has been extended to medical services carried out by supervised, non-registered staff as of 1 May.

Prior to the measure, the exemption only applied to medical services carried out by registered health professionals. The new zero-rating rules now mean that all staff can provide their service exempt from VAT under the direct supervision of a registered pharmacist.

According to HMRC, extending the exemption will bring the VAT treatment of pharmacists in line with other health professionals.

Simplifying the current VAT rules may also positively impact over 13,000 community pharmacies in the UK, encouraging them to offer a wider range of services — easing the pressure on GPs and the NHS.

Services affected may include blood pressure checks and health checks conducted by non-registered pharmacy team members, which were previously liable for the 20% VAT rate.

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), praised the measure, saying:

“The CCA has long campaigned for the full breadth of the pharmacy team to be utilised. From May this year, healthcare services provided by pharmacy team members under a pharmacist’s supervision will be treated as zero-rated for VAT.

“In addition, from this autumn, medicines supplied via Patient Group Directions will be treated the same way for VAT as those prescribed by a GP or independent prescribing pharmacist.

“These measures will boost capacity in pharmacies and crucially pave the way for the future commissioning of clinical services in community pharmacy.”

Janet Morrison, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), shared Harrison’s point of view, adding that the PSNC had been “fighting for changes to these VAT rules for many years”.

She continued:

“While small in impact in the context of the current challenges, this is a very welcome development.”

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