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NPA: Emergency supply proposals a 'smoke screen' for cuts

David Mowat: The scheme will make more use of pharmacists' expertise

Government plans to allow pharmacists to supply emergency medication without GP approval is a "smoke screen" for looming funding cuts, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said.

Under the 'Pharmacy Urgent Care' pilot programme announced by the Department of Health (DH) yesterday (October 13), patients who call NHS 111 for urgent repeat medication will be directed straight to a community pharmacist, instead of out-of-hours GP surgeries.

The programme will launch in "pilot areas across England" in December, the DH added. 

NHS 111 will also develop a “new approach” to refer patients with minor ailments  such as sore throats and bites – to community pharmacists for advice and medication, the DH said. This work will be linked to locally commissioned minor ailments services, it added.

However, NPA chairman Ian Strachan said yesterday that the new pharmacy schemes are a "smoke screen...clearly timed to draw attention away from the looming cuts planned by the [DH]".

“Pharmacies cannot deliver these services if they have to cut back staff. They cannot deliver a service if they have been forced to close," he added.

The emergency supply pilot will be funded by the pharmacy integration fund a £300 million fund designed to assimilate pharmacy into the NHS and other care settings and the cost of drugs would be recharged to NHS England as an average cost across each clinical commissioning group, the DH told C+D today (October 14).

The England-wide minor ailments direction service will be "developed and evaluated" between December 2016 and April 2018, the DH added. It will not receive funding and instead be "undertaken through 'business as usual' work", the DH told C+D.

As part of its work looking at options to better integrate community pharmacy into urgent care, NHS England will investigate the impact of patients going to A&E for urgent prescriptions, the DH said.

"Modernising the sector"

Pharmacy minister David Mowat said yesterday that the DH is “modernising the sector to give patients the best possible quality and care”.

“This new scheme will make more use of pharmacists’ expertise, as well as freeing up vital time for GPs and reducing visits to A&E for urgent repeat medicines,” Mr Mowat said.

He added it is part of the DH’s drive to meet increasing demand for services, while “transforming” how pharmacists and their teams operate in the community.

England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said the pilot will help pharmacy to integrate into the NHS’ urgent care system and described it as a “step towards the new role for community pharmacy”.

NHS England medical director for acute care Keith Willett said directing patients with less serious conditions to pharmacy could reduce the current pressure on the NHS.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has today rejected the government's plans to slash pharmacy funding in England by 12% for December 2016 until March 2017.

8 Comments
Question: 
Do you agree with how the integration fund will be spent?

H.N. BURDESS, Community pharmacist

The emergency supply law has always been a poor concept.In a practical sense it is extra work and no payment, but it does save NHS costs and gp time.The emergency supply

rule should be revoked .The additional costs would make interesting reading.

janet maynard, Community pharmacist

If patients are sent to us for repeat medications won't they object strongly that they have to pay??? or can we provide repeat medications even when the surgery is open? We are based in a surgery so the current scheme operating in Cumbria cannot apply to us as we open when the surgery does.

 

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

eRDs would help with supply of repeats when surgery closed.  If patient neglects to order the next round of eRDs after their expected review then I say tough.  In those circumstances they should pay up.  For those areas where surgeries have still not switched on EPS2 then HM Govt should force them to.  Otherwise certain surgeries will never switch on.

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

For a second, I want to focus specifically on the emergency supply service proposed and ignore the most ill thought out plans to cut funding from what is already the most efficient and easily accessible part of the NHS. .  In Cumbria and the North East, we had a PERMSS (Pharmacy Emergency Repeat Medicines Supply Scheme) commisioned for winter 2015-16.  Pharmacies were reimbursed for making an emergency supply when the patient's GP was closed, rather than having patients use up other resources like out of hours clinics and NHS111 which are under increased strain during the winter.

So now DH want to provide this service solely through 111.  Starting in the winter.  When NHS111 are at their busiest.  I have to wonder if the left hand even knows that the right hand exists, let alone knows what it's doing.

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

111 have been directing patients to pharmacies for emergency supplies in our area for about a year now, commisioned by the CCG to save starin on A.E and out of hours- we get paid. How very forward thinking of the DoH to come with something crapper, and after its already been proven. they do not have a clue

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The more you read the more you weep. The England-wide minor ailments direction service will be "developed and evaluated" between December 2016 and April 2018, the DH added. It will not receive funding and instead be "undertaken through 'business as usual' work", the DH told C+D. So that means NHS 111 advises patients to go to a pharmacy to buy something for their sore throat. Amazing that patients did not think of that themselves. Can someone just remind me what % of the population do not pay for Rx?

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

NHS111 send patients to a Pharmacy? thats that idea scuppered then, even if they would pay...

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Smoke screen is correct. Day before cuts spin comes out with idea that is totally lacking detail. Pilot scheme. Where? When? How? Using SCR - that will be a joke then! Just how are pharmacies to be paid and how much? System in place by December!

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