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Pharmacy First ‘league tables’ piling pressure on pharmacy staff, PDA warns

The pharmacy union has revealed reports that “daily or weekly” Pharmacy First consultation targets and comparisons between branches are putting mounting pressure on pharmacy teams.

Minimum activity thresholds for Pharmacy First consultations have led to “increasing pressure” though comparison “league tables”, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said.

In November, NHS England (NHSE) said that all pharmacies offering the new Pharmacy First service must periodically increase the number of consultations they complete until October this year.

This month, pharmacies must complete a minimum of five consultations to claim a fixed monthly payment of £1,000, but next month the threshold will rise to 10. By October, the activity threshold will be 30 consultations.

The pharmacy union said yesterday (April 11) that it has “increasing concern about the pressure on pharmacists to ensure that the minimum activity threshold of clinical pathway consultations is reached”.

It added that its members “are reporting that this is manifesting in the introduction of daily or weekly targets”.

Sharing of consultation numbers between pharmacy branches has also led to “comparisons with other pharmacies through ‘league tables’ at some employers”.


Superdrug “working to scaled targets”


A spokesperson for Superdrug told C+D today that the multiple has “upskilled [its] teams to…release the capacity of [its] pharmacists to deliver Pharmacy First”.

It will “continue to introduce efficiencies in [its] pharmacies to further release capacity”, it added.

Superdrug said it was “working to scaled targets set out by the NHS” and supporting pharmacy staff “to help meet them”.

C+D also approached Boots, Well and Rowlands for comment.  

The PDA advised members that “agreeing objectives and targets should be a two-way process” – “they must be realistic and achievable within the resources available”.


Most pharmacies have “no additional staff”


The PDA also revealed that in an “ongoing” Pharmacy First poll with over 700 responses, “35% of respondents have said they have had targets placed upon them”.

But it said that “94% of respondents say that no additional staff have been provided to manage the increase in workload”.

“In addition to concerns about targets”, pharmacy staff providing Pharmacy First reported “issues with inappropriate NHS referrals and walk-in patients who…do not meet the gateway criteria”, it added.

“Such consultations do not contribute towards the minimum activity threshold,” it stressed.

Last month, an Avicenna poll revealed that less than 40% of Pharmacy First consultations delivered by the group’s pharmacies met the gateway criteria for payment.

And C+D reported that one pharmacy missed out on 10 consultation referrals in one day after GPs failed to formally refer patients to the Pharmacy First service.

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