To be eligible for the PQS payment for the first part of 2020/21, contractors must have taken all 14 actions set out in the checklist for the scheme, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced yesterday (July 13).
The new PQS focuses on “ensuring community pharmacy contractors and their teams have put in place all reasonable measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Many contractors may already have implemented these actions, which relate to “protecting both themselves and the people using their services” in the last few months, the PSNC said.
The 14 criteria include making arrangements for maximising social distancing on the premises and displaying up-to-date COVID-19 posters and information.
Contractors can start claiming the £1,630 payment on the NHS Business Services Authority’s Manage Your Service portal from today (July 14) and have until January 29 next year to submit their claims for the first part of the PQS.
The PQS has been split into two parts this year and replaces the PQS that had been agreed prior to the COVID-19 outbreak – which was expected to start in April.
Funding totalling £18.75 million as been earmarked for the first part of the scheme and any unused funding will be “distributed as part of payments in the part two 2020/21 scheme”, PSNC said.
The negotiator is “in discussions” with NHS England and Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care to “finalise the details” of the second part of the scheme, which is expected to start in October 2020 and “will also focus on the response to the pandemic”.
The PQS budget was set at £75m a year in the five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework last year. The remainder of this annual budget, £56.25m, will be applied to the scheme, PSNC said.
Community pharmacies kept their doors open for their patients during the pandemic and, “to achieve this, they have had to make many significant changes to the way they have operated”, said Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at PSNC.
“This first PQS scheme for 2020/21 has been developed to recognise all that prior work by contractors and their teams and to encourage them to check that all appropriate actions have been taken to protect their staff, patients and the continuity of their service to the community, as we continue our journey through this pandemic,” he said.