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PQS funding remains at £75m for final years of pharmacy deal

The Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) will remain at its current funding level, giving contractors access to £75 million per year during the final two years of the five-year community pharmacy contract, the government has announced. 

In year 4, contractors completing the PQS will need to “consolidate and build on existing criteria to support the NHS recovery from COVID-19 and wider national health priorities”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) said today (September 22), as it unveiled pharmacy funding arrangements for 2022/23 and 2023/24.

The decision was also acclaimed by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) as “a “good outcome” for the sector.

PSNC claims that the DH and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) proposed “demanding requirements for PQS” at the beginning of the negotiations, which PSNC said it “negotiated hard to improve”.


Year 4: New criteria


PQS has “reduced in scope significantly” under year 4 o the contract – which is expected to commence from October 10, PSNC detailed.

This followed concerns raised by the negotiator about the sector’s current capacity issues and the “government’s slow progress on the approval of the overall year 4 and 5 agreement”, it added.

Read more: £100m in excess margin written off as DH stands firm on flat funding deal

In year 4, the scheme will build on previous criteria around:

  • managing risk (red flags, sepsis and COVID-19 transmission)
  • effective management of respiratory disease
  • antimicrobial stewardship and referrals to weight management services.

New criteria will also be aimed at supporting those suffering domestic abuse, level 3 safeguarding skills, improved access to medicines to support palliative and end of life care, and training on early cancer diagnosis.


Year 5: Requirements coming soon


The year 5 scheme will continue to build on the requirements set for year 4.

But it will also include: “a re-audit of the safe use of anticoagulants; new criteria aiming to increase awareness of the availability of defibrillators and understanding of how they should be used, and to increase working with local systems on health inequalities”.

“The year 5 scheme is already agreed and once the fine detail has been finalised, the requirements will be published to provide contractors with advance notice,” PSNC added.

Read more: PSNC unveils plans for new national pharmacy contraception service

PSNC is expected to announce further briefings and webinars focusing on the new contraception service and the PQS.


PSNC: Rejecting deal “simply not an option”


In a statement, PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison noted that the government was “resolute” in its “refusal to move beyond the five-year deal, which they clearly view as set in stone”.

Given this context, “we are pleased to have improved on the original offer from the NHS and government as much as we did”, she added, “as well as significantly reducing both the scope of the PQS and the pace of rollout of new services”.

Rejecting the deal “would have lost all of these benefits for contractors, as well as ruining any chance of a more constructive relationship with our new government, which was simply not an option”, she said.


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