A select number of pharmacies began piloting an NHS Community Pharmacy Contraception Management service last September, which was extended in October to be trialled for at least two years.
Following the pilot, the new Pharmacy Contraceptive Service (PCS) will be phased in from January next year – with pharmacists initially using a Patient Group Instruction (PID) to provide ongoing management of routine oral contraception started at a general practitioner or a sexual health clinic .
Participating pharmacies are currently being paid £18 per consultation and a £900 set-up fee, paid in installments – versus the £685 being offered to pilot sites.
The new advanced service is “very positive” for the “development of pharmacy services in the community,” the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said today (September 22) as it unveiled the arrangements for years 4 and 5 of the funding agreement.
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The deal marks the culmination of months of “tense” negotiations between PSNC, the Department for Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I), PSNC said.
While negotiations began in February, the deal’s progress has been slowed by “both the need to get cross-government approval for the £100m margin write-off, the resignation of ministers and the Conservative Party leadership race.” , admitted the negotiator .
As part of the funding agreement, it was agreed that there will be a phased rollout of service enhancements and the PCS – with the following key rollout and rollout dates:
• January 11, 2023: Introduction of the first first stage of the new PCS
• March 2023: Extension of the CPCS to include referrals from emergency and emergency care facilities
• April 19, 2023: Expansion of the NMS to include antidepressants
• October 4, 2023: Start of the second stage of the PCS, in which, subject to evaluation, pharmacists will use a PGD to start patients on oral contraception
This data is spread across years 4 and 5 of the funding agreement because the sector is already overwhelmed and unable to cope with multiple changes to services beginning at the same time, argued PSNC.
PCS “clearly in line with industry ambitions”
Following the announcement, Clare Kerr, a member of PSNC’s negotiation team and co-chair of PSNC’s service development subcommittee, said the committee “felt fit to agree to the launch of the new PCS.”
It is “clearly in line with the industry’s ambitions for the future,” she added.
“The service, if pharmacies have the capacity to offer it, will be a positive step forward, allowing pharmacies to give people the advice and prevention they need in a more convenient environment, while also adding further GP capacity released,” she said.
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However, it was “very disappointing” that PSNC was not able to arrange “a fully funded pharmacy walk-in service,” she noted.
The negotiator continues to make it clear to the Government and the NHS that “they cannot drive any more patients to self-care in pharmacies without this being adequately funded,” Ms Kerr added.
“As the demand for advice continues to rise, pharmacies need to be given the support they need to provide it.”
Extensions to CPCS and NMS
PSNC has “insisted” that planned expansions to the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) and the New Medicine Service (NMS) remain in place “modest” in the last two years of the deal.
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The DH and NHSE&I have also agreed that no other new services will be introduced or expanded under the current community pharmacy funding framework, PSNC confirmed.
Government’s Plan for Patients
It comes as new Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey presented a new “plan for patients” to the House of Commons today (22 September).
The plan references some elements of the pharmacy contract, such as: B. The ambition for pharmacists to manage and deliver “more medicines such as contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription” to “relieve the pressure on GPs and free up time for appointments”.
Government officials estimate that this would make an additional two million family doctor appointments available each year.
The DH also plans to “go further” and grant pharmacists more prescribing powers while “making simpler diagnostic tests available in community pharmacies.”