The recommendation came after the committee heard of the financial risk pharmacies face when procuring high-cost medicines.
Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) had told the committee that “wholesalers' payment terms [are] 30 days, but the NHS [does not] reimburse for two-three months”, the MSPs wrote in the report on the supply and demand for medicines.
Existing systems to apply for advance funding were described by CPS director of operations Matt Barclay as “clunky”, according to the report, which was published earlier this week (June 30).
Mr Barclay told C+D yesterday (July 2) that Scottish pharmacies can apply to individual health boards for advanced funding “for extraordinary costs related to NHS service provision”, including the purchasing of high-cost medicines.
However, this system is “bureaucratic for the contractor and the health board and adds complexity to cashflow”, he said.
“We need a robust solution that suits all parties and will continue to work with our stakeholder partners to make supply of these medicines seamless and less complex than is currently the case,” Mr Barclay added.
A spokesperson for NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) told C+D today (July 3) that NSS is currently “undertaking a full redevelopment of the data capture validation and pricing system used to calculate the payments to community pharmacies”.
This includes making "better use of electronic prescribing and dispensing claims”, they said.
In time, this could allow for “the elimination of paper prescriptions from the payment processes which could facilitate a shortening of the…re-imbursement…of payments to contractors”, they said.
The NSS “cannot endorse any recommendation at present but may do so as work develops in response to this report”, the spokesperson added.
The recommendation to bring NHS Scotland reimbursement for community pharmacy in line with wholesaler payment terms was one of 129 recommendations put forward by the committee in the report.
The MSPs also heard about the time pharmacists spend sourcing medicines and suggested that this role should be shifted to pharmacy technicians. This would “improve efficiency” and free up pharmacists’ time to share “clinical expertise with patients”, they said.
“We recommend the procurement of medicines become part of the formalised training for pharmacy technicians, including how to manage other staff to assist,” they said in the report.
The Scottish government should, “as a matter of urgency, formalise the systems for sharing information between prescribers and dispensers”, the MSPs said.
This suggestion was put forward as the committee heard from the chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Scottish pharmacy board, Jonathan Burton, that the “recording of discussions [with patients is] down to the professional judgement of the pharmacist”.
MSPs explained that they were asking the Scottish government to inform them “what aspects of data collection are covered in the new pharmacy contract”.
They also recommended that the government “formalise the systems for sharing information between prescribers and dispensers”. This should be done “as a matter of urgency” and in “collaboration with GPs and pharmacists”, they added.
A Scottish parliament press release accompanying the release of the report referred to “the dismal failure of NHS Scotland” to “collect and share data”.