Pharmacy businesses were paid for just 43 per cent of the NMS interventions they carried out in the first month after the service launched, NHS payment data has revealed.
The banding payment structure for the service means that unless contractors meet specific targets for NMS interventions depending on the size of their businesses, they will not be paid at all for the service or will be paid less than the maximum £25 per intervention fee.
"Clearly it's not acceptable for contractors to provide the service without being paid"
Alastair Buxton, PSNC
In October last year contractors said they had completed 10,121 NMS interventions and they were paid £109,450 for those, NHS Prescription Services (NHS PS) payment data published this month shows.
Taking the maximum intervention payment fee of £25, this means just 4,378 interventions, or 43 per cent of the total claimed for, were paid for in full.
Overall 5,743 interventions were not paid for, meaning the sector missed out on £143,575 worth of funding, despite having done the work for it.
Criticism of the banded payment structure for the NMS continued this week as Lancashire contractors branded it "very poor" and the Local Pharmaceutical Committee asked PSNC to review the service.
PSNC head of NHS services Alastair Buxton yesterday (Tuesday, January 31) confirmed that the committee was in discussions with NHS Employers on the matter and was "pushing hard" to secure a solution "as quickly as possible".
"Clearly it's not acceptable for contractors to provide the service without being paid," he said.
The NHS PS payment data also revealed that just 2,557 or 23 per cent of pharmacies in England claimed NMS payments in the first month after the service launched.
NMS activity levels also varied significantly across the country, with contractors in North East Lincolnshire recording just four completed interventions, while those in Hampshire managed 240 last October.
The proportion of interventions paid for also showed major differences between PCTs – in Milton Keynes almost 85 per cent of interventions were paid for, giving a payment of £1,075 for 51 interventions, but in Telford and Wrekin just one intervention of the 19 completed was paid for, giving a payment rate of just 5 per cent. And across 15 other PCTs, 334 interventions were completed and no payments made.