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Pharmacies could have 1 month to qualify for payment scheme

NHS England: Must see evidence of application for an NHSmail account by February 1

Some pharmacies without access to the NHS email service will have just one month to prove they are eligible for the government's new payment scheme, C+D has learned.

To qualify for the Quality Payments Scheme – through which businesses can claw back up to £6,400 in funding a year – a pharmacy must prove to the Department of Health that it can send and receive NHS mail.

Contractors' eligibility for the scheme will first be assessed in April, by which time pharmacies will need to show evidence that they applied for an NHSmail account by February 1, 2017, according to NHS Digital.

However, changes to the NHSmail application process mean pharmacies cannot currently apply for an account, unless they are taking part in NHS England's emergency supply pilot.

All other pharmacies will have to wait until NHSmail applications reopen in January – giving these contractors a maximum of one month to apply for an account if they want to qualify for the first round of quality payments.

NHS England explained that it had closed the usual process of NHSmail applications for December so it could give "priority to those pharmacies intending to provide the [emergency supply] pilot".

A new “central approach” to NHSmail applications will be rolled-out in January, with the aim to have “national coverage” by the end of March 2017, it added.

Prior to December 1, pharmacies could request an NHSmail account via the local organisation administrator (LOA) in their local NHS England team. According to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC):  “LOAs have been told that they should no longer provide new NHSmail accounts to pharmacies.”

Instead, NHS England and NHS Digital are working to develop “a more streamlined and simplified national process for NHSmail” to help pharmacies meet the requirements of the Quality Payments Scheme, PSNC added.

NHS Digital told C+D yesterday (December 5) that it "does not know" how many pharmacies do not yet have NHSmail access.

Last month, Avon local pharmaceutical committee told C+D the “biggest risk” for pharmacies in the region not qualifying for the quality payments is that many do not have NHSmail accounts already.

Do you already have an NHS mail account?

How High?, Community pharmacist

It's a shame they can't even spell pharmacy.........

Pharamacy for heaven's sake!

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

I've been trying on and off for years to get generic NHSMail accounts for our pharmacies in Cumbria, Meera.  Seemingly, those who were in charge of administering these before 30th November didn't understand the need for a generic, whole branch address.  Getting individual accounts has been no problem and several of our staff use these on a regular basis.  But as part of the terms of service, these can't be used by anyone and everyone, hence the need for a generic account.  (In a similar manner, it has taken a long, long time to get pharmacists who work at more than one branch to be given a FFFFF national locum code to allow them to work!)

I am aware of several other contractors who have, like me tried to get accounts but have given up after being passed from pillar to post and back again, usually via an assortment of other long items secured perpendicularly into the ground and become disenchanted with the whole thing.

Other issues relating to lack of uptake of NHSMail have taken time to thrash out too, with some of the larger companies not being able to access them and, for one reason or another, the Ts and Cs not being compatible with their organisations' IT policies (rightly or wrongly).  

Please don't think pharmacies are deliberately dragging their heels.  Even being used for patient prescription requets would be a fantastic thing for all pharmacies, if for no other reason than to cut the fax bill!

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

I believe you Ben. Different areas seem to have different roll-out procedures, and compatibility issues are definately tricky!

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

To be fair, a lot of pharmacies in my patch have been repeatedly told to get nhs mail accounts so that they can be sent data from GP practices (where relevant for queries). Needless to say it's been problematic, and trying to communicate with the pharmacies has been very difficult - especially when patient data is involved. Think at some point it had to be tackled once and for all - hence this deadline.

S Pessina, Pharmacist Director

Why does everyone one that DOES NOT work in a pharmacy make it so bloody difficult for everyone who works in a pharmacy.   

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

"For the April 2017 Review, evidence of application for an NHS Mail account by 1 February 2017 will be acceptable)."  So you still need to do something soon but if the account isn't live by the day of the review, as long as you've made an effort to apply you will still qualify for the scheme.

Says a lot about the whole [insert expletive] scheme when they have to put clauses like this in.  The whole thing is so poorly thought out.

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