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Pharmacy smoking cessation service set for slow start, PSNC anticipates

Pharmacies in England could start offering an advanced smoking cessation service as early as March 10, but there will be “no big-bang start” for the service, a PSNC director has predicted.

From March 1, contractors will be able to register on the NHS Business Services Authority’s Manage Your Service (MYS) portal to provide the service, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said in an update yesterday (February 24).

Patients who started their smoking cessation treatment in hospital – and consent to be part of the ongoing service – will be referred to a participating pharmacy of their choice for continued support in the community, according to the draft service specification.

However, NHS trusts are currently focussing “on recovery following COVID-19 and consequently they will not all immediately start to make referrals to the service”, PSNC said.

“NHS England and NHS Improvement expect most to be making referrals within two years from the commencement date,” the negotiator added.

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton argued that the rollout of this model is still in its “early days”, which means “there will be no big-bang start for the service”.


Deciding whether to provide this service


Contractors interested in offering the advanced service 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, the negotiator explained last year.

PSNC said yesterday that to decide whether providing the service would be worthwhile, contractors need to first understand whether they will be likely to receive enough referrals.

“The starting point in making that assessment should be determining whether local NHS trusts are already making referrals to pharmacies,” which is something that local pharmaceutical committees could offer advice on, PSNC added.

Currently, only pharmacists can provide the service “due to the current rules on exemptions for VAT”, according to PSNC.

However, the Department of Health and Social Care and HM Revenue and Customs are exploring whether these rules can be “amended to allow support staff to provide the service”.

This service is the second of two new advanced services launched within the current contractual year, following the introduction of the hypertension case-finding service in October last year.

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