HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 11 January 2016

One in ten patients uses online services

DDA, Ailsa Colquhoun, 11 January 2016

Only 10% of patients report they use online services to order a repeat prescription, while 7% use it to book appointments and 1% to track their medical records. Charity Age UK warned against moving services online without adequate support for people who are not current users of Internet. Though awareness of available online services is better, consumers’ use has only increased very marginally.


Pharmacy bodies told to get behind petition to overturn funding cuts

Pharmacy Biz, 8 January 2016

The petition launched following the government’s announcement of funding cuts for pharmacy community has now received over 10,000 signatures, forcing the government to issue a response. Paul Mason, who instigated the petition, stated that patients and general public’s support was necessary to reach the 100,000 signatures with a deadline of the 29 June to put the question up for parliamentary debate.


Department of Health issues use of antiviral medicines letter

PSNC, 8 January 2016

The Department of Health (DH) has issued a letter advising that GPs and other prescribers working in primary care in England may now prescribe at NHS expense, antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza, in accordance with NICE guidance and the Selected List Scheme (SLS) in Part XVIIIB of the England and Wales Drug Tariff.

Community pharmacy contractors who receive NHS prescriptions – written generically or by brand –  for oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza), the antivirals included in the SLS list, are therefore reminded that prescriptions for these products must be endorsed ‘SLS’.  If the ‘SLS’ endorsement is missing, the prescription should not be dispensed and will not be passed for payment by NHS Prescription Services. Pharmacy staff cannot make the ‘SLS’ endorsement themselves.

PSNC would urge contractors not to over order stocks of antiviral medicines. Over ordering could result in shortages in the supply chain. It is, however, important that oseltamivir for adults and children and zanamivir for adults are taken within 48 hours of onset of symptoms. Children 5 years and over and under 13 years of age should start taking zanamivir within 36 hours of onset of symptoms, to obtain maximum benefit.

The DH letter also highlights the need to ensure maximum protection against flu through vaccination. Pharmacy teams are reminded to continue to encourage as many eligible patients as possible to get vaccinated against flu before the pharmacy flu vaccination service ends in February 2016.


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One in ten patients uses online services

DDA, Ailsa Colquhoun, 11 January 2016

One in ten English patients (10.5%) has used online services in the past six months to order repeat prescriptions, according to the latest GP patient survey.

In addition only 7% of respondents have used online services to book appointments, and less than 1% of patients have used online services to access their medical records. Use of online services has shown only marginal increases since the previous patient research.

The survey shows that the majority of patients (87.2%) normally book their appointment over the phone, and over one in four (27.4%) book in person.

Charity Age UK has warned against moving public services online without providing sufficient support for those who are ‘offline’. It finds that around four out of five people aged 75 and over in the lowest socio-economic groups do not currently use the internet. It says: “Moving public services online without providing sufficient support … is making it harder for some pensioners to access vital services and could deter people from seeking the support they need.”

The 2015 GP patient survey in England shows that awareness of online services has increased, however. Nearly one in three patients (29.3%) are now aware they can book appointments online, an increase of 3.4 percentage points since 2014. A similar proportion (29.6%) are aware they can order repeat prescriptions online. There is much less awareness of online medical records, however.

Overall, the majority of patients (84.9%) rate their overall experience of their GP surgery as at least ‘good’. However, the proportion of patients who rate their experience as good continues to decline, albeit marginally since the previous survey in 2014.

Half of patients (50.4%) have a GP they prefer to see, a decrease of 3.1 percentage points since 2014. Of these patients, nearly three in five (59.0%) say they ‘always or almost always’ see them or see them ‘a lot of the time’, a decrease of 1.1 percentage point since 2014. Nearly one in five patients (19.2%) said that during the past six months they had wanted to access a GP during out of hours.

Over half of all patients (53.6%) have one or more long standing health condition (LSHC). Of these, 63% say they had enough support from local services or organisations to help them manage their condition, a decrease of 0.7 percentage points since 2014.

Rural GPs can compare their performance score against other CCGs using these online tools.


Pharmacy bodies told to get behind petition to overturn funding cuts

Pharmacy Biz, 8 January 2016

Paul Mason, the Barnsley LPC executive and man behind the petition attempting to force the government into a u-turn over its swingeing cuts to communuity pharmacy funding, has urged pharmacy bodies to back the campaign if it is to be presented to parliament.

The petition, which Mason launched on December 29, surpassed 10,000 signatures today, compelling the government to respond. The petition is, however, another 90,000 signatures away from taking the government’s £170 million reduction in pharmacy funding for 2016-17 to a parliamentary debate.

Mason said the only way the petition will attract 100,000 signatures is if patients and the general public support it. And with a June 29 deadline, time is not limitless.

That, he said, will only occur if national pharmacy representative bodies such as Pharmacy Voice and the National Pharmacy Association spread the petition’s message.

“The only way that’s going to happen is if patients and the public engage in it. There’s only so far we can go by engaging directly with people in the pharmacy profession. If we really have any hope of reaching 100,000 we’ve got to get patients in,” Mason said.

“How we engage patients and the wider general public, that’s a different question. There’s a limit for how social media can reach people.

“I’d like to see organisations promote it more widely. Our own national representational organisations, NPA, Pharmacy Voice, PSNC, RPS. I would like to think they would like to lend their support.”

When asked if pharmacy bodies had been slow to support the petition, he said: “Understandably. We did this over the new year. We’ve had some interest from some organisations but I’d like that to pick up.

“We need organisations to put messages out on mailing lists…to promote that outside of pharmacy, maybe posters, leaflets. There are many ways to get the message out. Time is of the essence.”

When asked if it was realistic to expect the government to reverse its decision on pharmacy funding cuts, Mason said: “The Department of Health and the Treasury have their own agenda. There are funding challenges in the NHS.

“I would like to see the government and the Treasury in particular look differently at how they can make savings rather than take 6% off the top. Pharmacy can deliver significant savings, possibly in excess of that, if it’s the right environment and contractual framework, to best utilise pharmacists’ skills.”

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