The service will see pharmacists conduct on-demand throat swab tests on patients to see whether antibiotics are necessary.
However, NHS England and Boots – which first piloted the scheme in 2014 – have not yet decided how much contractors will be paid for providing the service, a Boots spokesperson told C+D last week (November 15). NHS England have also stopped short of committing to a national scheme.
Full remuneration tops the sector's wish-list for the controversial scheme – according to comments on the C+D website, and the demands of community pharmacy bodies.
Call for "fair funding"
Pharmacy staff member Stephen Smullen argued that without “adequate remuneration”, pressure on pharmacists would increase and the “overall patient experience would drop”.
“Is someone going to stand back and review what pharmacy has to offer the public and pay for the service as a whole, rather than piecemeal?” Mr Smullen asked.
Pharmacist Stephen Eggleston said that “new services are all well and good”, but questioned where the funding would come from.
While community pharmacist Nat Mitchell questioned whether the scheme fits in with the NHS's “free at [the] point of care principle”.
Another community pharmacist, Meera Sharma, argued there must be “fair funding” or “this scheme should be rejected”.
“There has been enough goodwill provided by pharmacists for free over the last decade. It needs to stop,” Ms Sharma added.
“Partnerships not cuts”
Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said NHS England’s support of the service highlighted “inconsistencies” between the pharmacy funding cuts and the government’s wish to better integrate the sector into the wider health service.
“If the NHS and the government are serious about working with the community pharmacy sector to develop and embed this type of initiative then we need partnerships, not cuts,” Mr Darracott said.