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2015-16 funding settlement: National flu service announced

PSNC has unveiled the community pharmacy funding settlement for 2015-16, which will see pharmacists deliver an advanced service for flu vaccination from September

PSNC has announced a national flu vaccination service as part of England's 2015-16 pharmacy funding settlement, which has seen no change to the global sum.

The advanced flu vaccination service will start this September and will generate remuneration on top of the global sum, which has remained flat at £2.8 billion after "extremely difficult" negotiations, PSNC announced today (July 20).

Pharmacists will receive £9.14 for every vaccination as well as reimbursement for the cost of the vaccine from NHS England’s national flu budget. This will include remuneration of £7.64 per dose plus £1.50 to cover training and waste disposal .

Under the service, any pharmacy with a consultation room will be to offer jabs to the NHS “at-risk” patient groups over the age of 18, including over-65s, pregnant women and adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes. The scheme will replace any local flu vaccination services commissioned through NHS England area teams.

PSNC said it needed to perform “further work” to prepare for the implementation of the service and pledged to publish a service specification and guidance "in due course". The service had been commissioned on an “ongoing basis” but it would be necessary to demonstrate it was offering "value for money", PSNC stressed.

Potential for GP "tension"

PSNC acknowledged that the service could potentially cause “tension” between pharmacists and GPs. It said GP support was “helpful and should be encouraged” but stressed that it was “not necessary” for the success of the service.

Pharmacists will still need to report vaccinations to the patient's GP practice, as is the requirement for locally commissioned services.

Pharmacists can also use the same suppliers as they do for existing local services. There will be no central procurement, and the NHS will simply specify the vaccines pharmacists need to use. 

The negotatior revealed that Public Health England was "coordinating communications and resources" to promote the flu vaccination programme, which pharmacists would be able to make use of. 

PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said the new flu service made "absolute sense” for patients and commissioners. “The commissioning of the new service shows that our messages about the impact pharmacy can have are starting to get through, and we must make the most of every opportunity given,” she said.

No national minor ailments services

In contrast to the flu service success, PSNC revealed that NHS England had “decided not to pursue" a national minor ailments service. PSNC said the outcome of the negotations for the service, which were underway in May, was “very disappointing” and would have a "negative impact" on the NHS and patients.

In better news, PSNC revealed it had agreed to establish a joint working group with the NHS to review the costs of and service issues with the electronic prescription service. The review would inform “a number of changes to the community pharmacy contractual framework", PSNC said.

The new funding package also includes additional requirements for pharmacists. PSNC had agreed “in principle” that pharmacies would have to publish their earnings from the NHS “in line with requirements on other health professionals and service providers", it said.

Pharmacists will also have to tell patients who claim exemption of prescription charges without evidence that the NHS routinely checks claims and may take action if a false claim has been made.


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