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Media and Political Bulletin – 06 July 2020

Media and Political Bulletin

06 July 2020

Media Summary

NHS should pay pharmacies on wholesalers’ payment terms, inquiry says

Chemist+Druggist, Valeria Fiore, 03 July 2020

Chemist+Druggist reports that, according to a report by the Health and Sport Committee, the NHS in Scotland should reimburse community pharmacies on the “same payment terms” established by the wholesalers.

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) told the Committee that “wholesalers’ payment terms [are] 30 days, but the NHS [does not] reimburse for two-three months”.

CPS director of operations Matt Barclay said, “We need a robust solution that suits all parties and will continue to work with our stakeholder partners to make supply of these medicines seamless and less complex than is currently the case.”

A spokesperson for NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) said on 03 July that NSS is currently “undertaking a full redevelopment of the data capture validation and pricing system used to calculate the payments to community pharmacies”.

Pharmacies to receive £1,250 per month under NHS Pharmacy First scheme

Pharmaceutical Journal, Corrinne Burns, 03 July 2020

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that pharmacies offering the NHS ‘Pharmacy First’ scheme in Scotland will receive base payments of £1,250 per month from 1 October 2020, the Scottish government has confirmed.

From the start of the scheme until 30 September 2020, pharmacies will continue to receive the “transitionary payment put in place from 1 April 2020”.

Adam Osprey, policy and development pharmacist at CPS, said: “We welcome the agreed funding and commitment to the service that the Scottish government has shown — and indeed we have matched it to demonstrate our commitment and belief in the service.”

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

NHS should pay pharmacies on wholesalers’ payment terms, inquiry says

Chemist+Druggist, Valeria Fiore, 03 July 2020

The NHS in Scotland should reimburse community pharmacies on the “same payment terms” established by the wholesalers, according to a Health and Sport Committee’s report.

The recommendation came after the committee heard of the financial risk pharmacies face when procuring high-cost medicines.

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) had told the committee that “wholesalers’ payment terms [are] 30 days, but the NHS [does not] reimburse for two-three months”, the MSPs wrote in the report on the supply and demand for medicines.

Existing systems to apply for advance funding were described by CPS director of operations Matt Barclay as “clunky”, according to the report, which was published earlier this week (June 30).

Mr Barclay told C+D yesterday (July 2) that Scottish pharmacies can apply to individual health boards for advanced funding “for extraordinary costs related to NHS service provision”, including the purchasing of high-cost medicines.

However, this system is “bureaucratic for the contractor and the health board and adds complexity to cashflow”, he said.

“We need a robust solution that suits all parties and will continue to work with our stakeholder partners to make supply of these medicines seamless and less complex than is currently the case,” Mr Barclay added.

“Full redevelopment”

A spokesperson for NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) told C+D today (July 3) that NSS is currently “undertaking a full redevelopment of the data capture validation and pricing system used to calculate the payments to community pharmacies”.

This includes making “better use of electronic prescribing and dispensing claims”, they said.

In time, this could allow for “the elimination of paper prescriptions from the payment processes which could facilitate a shortening of the…re-imbursement…of payments to contractors”, they said.

The NSS “cannot endorse any recommendation at present but may do so as work develops in response to this report”, the spokesperson added.

The recommendation to bring NHS Scotland reimbursement for community pharmacy in line with wholesaler payment terms was one of 129 recommendations put forward by the committee in the report.

Sharing information

The MSPs also heard about the time pharmacists spend sourcing medicines and suggested that this role should be shifted to pharmacy technicians. This would “improve efficiency” and free up pharmacists’ time to share “clinical expertise with patients”, they said.

“We recommend the procurement of medicines become part of the formalised training for pharmacy technicians, including how to manage other staff to assist,” they said in the report.

The Scottish government should, “as a matter of urgency, formalise the systems for sharing information between prescribers and dispensers”, the MSPs said.

This suggestion was put forward as the committee heard from the chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Scottish pharmacy board, Jonathan Burton, that the “recording of discussions [with patients is] down to the professional judgement of the pharmacist”.

MSPs explained that they were asking the Scottish government to inform them “what aspects of data collection are covered in the new pharmacy contract”.

They also recommended that the government “formalise the systems for sharing information between prescribers and dispensers”. This should be done “as a matter of urgency” and in “collaboration with GPs and pharmacists”, they added.

A Scottish parliament press release accompanying the release of the report referred to “the dismal failure of NHS Scotland” to “collect and share data”.

Pharmacies to receive £1,250 per month under NHS Pharmacy First scheme

Pharmaceutical Journal, Corrinne Burns, 03 July 2020

Pharmacies will also be paid per activity under the scheme.

Pharmacies offering the NHS ‘Pharmacy First’ scheme in Scotland will receive base payments of £1,250 per month from 1 October 2020, the Scottish government has confirmed.

Under the terms of the service, set out in a circular published by the Scottish government on 1 July 2020, the pharmacies will also be paid per activity, with equal weight given to advice, referrals and medicines supplied after a Pharmacy First consultation.

The scheme, which replaces the Minor Ailment Service (MAS), will launch across Scotland on 29 July 2020, after having been postponed from its original start date of 22 April 2020 to allow pharmacy teams to focus on managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the start of the scheme until 30 September 2020, pharmacies will continue to receive the “transitionary payment put in place from 1 April 2020”, the circular said.

However, from 1 October 2020, contractors will receive a monthly base payment of £1,250 as well as a share of the “activity pool”: a figure that will vary according to how many activities the pharmacy undertakes.

The circular adds that the activity recorded during the transitionary period “will be used to gauge the precise parameters of the remuneration arrangements from 1 October 2020”.

In an FAQ published on its website, Communtiy Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) said it was “critical that all consultation activity is recorded so that the pharmacy team’s hard work is recognised properly”.

Both CPS and the Scottish government have contributed funding to the service.

Adam Osprey, policy and development pharmacist at CPS, said: “We welcome the agreed funding and commitment to the service that the Scottish government has shown — and indeed we have matched it to demonstrate our commitment and belief in the service.”

“The distribution method is designed to be adaptable and we have always been clear that it would change over time to more closely reflect individual activity levels.”

The Scottish government has also published an approved list of products available through NHS Pharmacy First, which was drawn up after discussions with stakeholders — including all 14 NHS health boards and CPS.

The products that may be supplied fall under 11 groups based on categories in the British National Formulary.

However, in the list document, the government said: “Wherever possible, providing lifestyle advice and support to manage minor conditions should be the preferred course of action, with treatment supplied and referrals made only where necessary.”

To help pharmacies transition to the new service, products supplied from local MAS formularies will be reimbursed until 1 October 2020 — even if those products are not on the approved list.

In a video update published on 2 July 2020, Harry McQuillan, chief executive of CPS, said that the list “is a working document”.

“Once we’ve got some usage and some feedback, it can be changed after a period where we’ve managed to gather the evidence of what needs to change — if anything,” he said.

Media and Political Bulletin – 06 July 2020

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