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Sector supports proposals to pay pharmacies for urgent care

Pharmacy representatives and C+D readers have shown their support for Monitor's plans to pay pharmacists for taking on a share of the emergency care burden

The sector has thrown its support behind proposals from England's health regulator to pay pharmacies to provide urgent care.

LPC chiefs and pharmacy representatives backed the payment structure put forward by Monitor last week (August 19), which would involve pharmacies receiving a fixed sum for their role in emergency care, with extra payments for volume and quality

C+D readers also showed support for taking on an urgent care role, but voiced concerns it could lead to more form-filling and "battles" with commissioners.

Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster LPC chief executive Rehka Shah welcomed Monitor's proposals, which suggested overhauling payments to primary care and urgent care providers to encourage the delivery of care closer to patients' homes. She hailed the involvement of community pharmacy as a "no-brainer" and said the payment structure would encourage pharmacists to participate.

"If it's activity-based, one pharmacy might get one [patient] in three months. Getting people to gear up for that is quite difficult. If you have a fixed sum, you get sign up," Ms Shah told C+D.

Ms Shah recognised the plans could place an extra administrative burden on pharmacists, but said the problem could be "smoothed out" with local support. "Once it settles down it will be fine. LPCs will be helping locally and I don't think it will be a big problem," she told C+D.

Doncaster and Nottinghamshire LPC secretary Nick Hunter echoed Ms Shah's comments. He stressed that the proposals were "reasonable" and it was right to pay pharmacists a fixed sum, but was sympathetic to concerns over administration.

Annabelle Collins and Sam Horti discuss the government's plans to pay pharmacies for providing urgent care

"That's something that has become an increasingly common problem," Mr Hunter told C+D. "What needs to happen is some commonality in the approach – for example, the same electronic reporting system being used."

Independent Pharmacy Federation chief executive Claire Ward said the model would improve support for patients and pharmacists, and argued that the involvement primary care providers should be a priority in overhauling the emergency care system.

Pharmacist Gerry Diamond agreed the proposals would help community pharmacists "augment their clinical role" in response to the story on the C+D website. "Community pharmacy gives best value for money in delivering positive outcomes for patients in primary care. We need this to happen," he said.

But another community pharmacist warned that the move could result in pharmacists doing more work for less pay. The worries were echoed by another reader, who voiced concerns that getting paid for urgent care would be a struggle. "All I see is another organisation that we'll have to battle with in order to get payment," they said.

Monitor is running a consultation on its proposals and pharmacists will be able to give their feedback on the report online until September 9. Anyone interested in getting involved in developing new payment models can email [email protected].

Do you support Monitor's plans to pay pharmacies for urgent care? 

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