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UPDATED: Pharmacy First fee claim deadline delayed again over IT issues

The deadline for contractors to submit February Pharmacy First payments claims has been extended for a second time, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has told C+D.

The NHSBSA revealed to C+D today (March 14) that “NHS England (NHSE) has confirmed that it will extend the submission deadline for February claims”.

The deadline for Pharmacy First consultation claims, which had already been extended once before, is now “11:59pm on Thursday March 21”.

Both extensions have been made in response to ongoing Pharmacy First IT issues.

Read more: Contractors ‘still getting nowhere’ a week on from Pharmacy First IT crash

“We are continuing to work closely with IT system suppliers to help them resolve their issues with the Pharmacy First data that they have supplied,” the NHSBSA told C+D.

It reiterated that it does “not anticipate that this will have an impact on payments”.

The original deadline for the submission was March 5, but it was initially extended to March 15 due to a “technical issue”.




Reacting to the second deadline change, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) chief executive Janet Morrison said that the “combination of IT hurdles” faced by pharmacies has “had a very negative impact on pharmacy teams”. 

“We are extremely concerned about the impact on both providers and patients,” she added. 

Read more: Pharmacy First IT: ‘Urgent action’ needed to prevent payments ‘chaos’, warns NPA

She said that CPE has made it “clear” to both the government and NHSE that the issues have had an “unacceptable effect” on stress and workload. 

Ms Morrison added that the negotiator is “pressing government and the NHS for urgent action to resolve the problems and restore faith in the data and payment mechanism”. 


Contractors should “contact their supplier”


Last week, contractors were left unable to complete Pharmacy First consultations when IT provider PharmOutcomes updated its security system and kicked users off the site.

But earlier this week, C+D reported that a week after the IT problems began, some contractors were “still getting nowhere” with accessing the site.

Others told C+D that the software was “incorrectly” allocating service data.

Read more: ‘Going round in circles’: Pharmacy First consultations halted by IT crash

Today, the NHSBSA said that if contractors “have concerns about their data or questions about their authenticator or reports, they should contact their system supplier”.

But C+D this week reported that one contractor had already spent “hours on the phone" with PharmOutcomes but that “no one [was] answering”,

Previously, PharmOutcomes’s parent company EMIS told C+D that “it was not possible to provide advance notice" of the update to pharmacies.


Pharmacy First IT chaos


Meanwhile, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) last week (March 8) warned that the NHS Manage Your Service (MYS) portal was “flawed” after pharmacies flagged that it “failed to report correct figures” for the number of Pharmacy First consultations delivered.

It said that the discrepancies could leave contractors “out of pocket” by “thousands of pounds”.

Read more: Pharmacy First: IT updates could be delayed by ‘months’

At the time, the NHSBSA stressed that the issue “was not caused by a flaw in the MYS system” and was instead due to the data it receives “from IT system suppliers”.

And last month, parliamentary under-secretary for health and social care Lord Nick Markham told the House of Lords that, despite the service launching at the end of January, some IT systems were still “not ready”.

Previously, C+D predicted that Pharmacy First IT system delays would “cause despair”.

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