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Are you ready for Pharmacy First? Deadlines for upfront cash announced

Pharmacies must sign up to deliver the new Pharmacy First service by the end of the year to receive a £2,000 cash injection in time for the service launch in February, the negotiator has announced. 

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) last week (December 1) announced that contractors can now apply to receive an “initial £2,000 fixed payment” if they intend to deliver the Pharmacy First service.

Last month (November 16), CPE announced that the payment would be available to contractors that signed up to deliver Pharmacy First, which includes seven new clinical pathways and replaces the existing community pharmacist consultation service (CPCS), before its launch.

Pharmacy owners will only be eligible for the upfront cash if they sign up before 11.59pm on January 31 2024, the negotiator said last week.

CPE revealed that pharmacy owners who sign up to Pharmacy First by 11.59pm on December 31 2023 will receive the initial fixed payment of £2,000 on February 1 2024.

However, those who sign up between then and the payment deadline at the end of January will receive the £2,000 a month later on March 1 2024, it said.

Those who do not register by 11.59pm on January 31 will still be able to sign up to deliver the service after this date but will no longer be eligible for the upfront payment, it added.

And CPE said that this £2,000 cash injection will be “recovered” from pharmacies if they have not delivered at least five clinical pathways consultations by March 31 next year.


Pharmacy First to launch in February 


CPE said that pharmacies can “start providing” the Pharmacy First service officially from February 1 2024.

Previously, the negotiator said that the service would launch on January 31 subject to IT systems being ready.

Ahead of the launch, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) also released the patient group directions (PGDs) for the service last week “to help contractors prepare”.

The PGDs will allow pharmacists to supply certain NHS-funded prescription-only medications (POMS), as well as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.


GP records access bound to new services


Meanwhile, CPE told C+D last month (November 27) that pharmacies will only have access to GP record platform GP connect if they offer the Pharmacy First, contraception or blood pressure services.

CPE director of NHS services Alastair Buxton told C+D that access to GP records “is being added into the pharmacy IT systems for Pharmacy First, [the hypertension case-finding service and the pharmacy contraception service] so will be available when providing all three services”.

Mr Buxton said that “the NHS and system suppliers are working to get write functionality…developed” so that pharmacists can add information directly to GP records.

But he said that “prior to that work being completed", the current approach of “sending information to practices following a consultation” – often using NHSMail - “will continue”.

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