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Hypertension case-finding service set for October launch with extra ‘incentive’ fees

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has negotiated additional incentive funding for a hypertension case-finding service, which is expected to be introduced in England in October.

PSNC announced today (August 23) that overall funding for 2021/22 remains at £2.592 billion – as it was set in the five-year pharmacy contractual framework announced in 2019 – despite the negotiator's ask for a funding uplift for the sector.

Announcing the outcome of the negotiations on year three of the five-year contractual framework, PSNC said it is “pleased to have gained agreement on incentive payments” for a hypertension case-finding service, which will be funded separately by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) to encourage pharmacy teams to find cases.


Fees and incentive fees


The hypertension case-finding service will be introduced as an advanced service in October, “or as soon as possible thereafter”, PSNC, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHSE&I clarified in a letter to contractors, published today.

Through the service, pharmacy teams will identify patients with undiagnosed hypertension by taking their blood pressure – referred to as a “clinic check” – and, where necessary, will offer ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM).

Contractors will receive a set-up fee of £440 for signing up to the service, and they will be able to claim £15 per clinic check and £45 per ABPM, PSNC said in a frequently asked questions document, adding that the service specification has not been finalised yet.

Contractors will also be able to claim “incentive payments” once they have delivered a certain “threshold of activity”, a PSNC spokesperson told C+D. These payments will come from outside the central £2.592bn funding envelope, the negotiator added.

Those delivering five ABPM interventions in 2021/22 will be able to claim £1,000, PSNC outlined. The claimable incentives will reduce to £400 in 2022/23 for 15 interventions, and will remain at £400 in 2023/24 for 20 interventions.

However, contractors who sign up after year three “must achieve the ABPM activity thresholds specified for the given financial year and will receive £1,000 as a first payment”, PSNC, the DH and NHSE&I wrote in the letter.

“If a contractor signs up in year three and fails to do five ABPMs, they can earn £1,000 by doing 15 ABPMs in year four. These incentive payments will be funded separately by NHSE&I to incentivise case finding in line with the ambition outlined in the NHS long-term plan,” the three bodies added.


“The vision for pharmacy services”


The current contractual year will also see the introduction of a smoking cessation advanced service from January 2022, which will see “NHS trusts refer patients discharged from hospital to a community pharmacy of their choice to continue their smoking cessation care pathway, including providing medication and behavioural support as required”.

Contractors will be able to claim a £1,000 set-up fee, then £30 for the first consultation, £40 for the last consultation and £10 for each interim meet.

A further extension of the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service for referrals coming from urgent treatment centres and A&E will be piloted “very soon”, PSNC CEO Simon Dukes said during a press briefing last week (August 20).

Mr Dukes told C+D that there will probably be “seven or eight areas that the pilot will take place [in], but that is still under discussion. Those areas will be centred on urgent treatment centres and/or A&E”.

Commenting on the new services that will be introduced during 2021/22, Clare Kerr, head of healthcare policy and strategy at McKesson UK and PSNC negotiating team member, said: “The new hypertension case-finding and smoking cessation advanced services finally start to bring to life the vision for pharmacy services that we have been advocating for many years. There is much to be positive about on the service development front, and I’m looking forward to watching the sector prove itself in these new areas.”

What do you make of the outcome of PSNC's negotiations for year three of the five-year community pharmacy contractual framework?

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