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PSNC asks: How would you change the NHS 111 emergency supply scheme?

"The service shows how community pharmacy can help the wider NHS to meet its objectives"

PSNC member Faisal Tuddy suggests how the negotiator could use the upcoming funding negotiations to improve the NHS scheme to supply emergency medicines in pharmacies

For pharmacists, the main focus of any round of contract negotiations conducted by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is on the agreed funding for the provision of pharmaceutical services.

But one of PSNC’s other important tasks related to the negotiations is to review the current services on offer, and decide whether they are still fit for purpose.

In preparation for negotiations later this year, PSNC has been reflecting on the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS) pilot, in the wake of a positive initial evaluation, and a subsequent six-month extension. NHS England is supportive of the service, and so the future commissioning of NUMSAS is likely to be up for discussion.

While it is not a service that was part of an agreed settlement, NUMSAS does offer an important opportunity for community pharmacy to show how we can reduce pressure on GP practices and urgent care services. Providing urgent supplies of medicines to people who need them has obvious benefits for patients, but it is also a service that shows how community pharmacy can help the wider NHS to meet its objectives.

What improvements did LPCs suggest?

After PSNC put a call out to our colleagues on local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs), we discussed a series of suggestions for improvements to NUMSAS at our July committee meeting. As I'm also a member of the service development subcommittee, I helped to collate a list of potential service amendments which we could discuss with NHS England:

  1. Access for all pharmacies providing the service to an IT solution that allows digital referrals to be made from NHS 111
  2. Include a walk-in service as part of NUMSAS
  3. Extend the service to include referrals from settings other than NHS 111, and integrated urgent care services such as hospital emergency departments – if the business case for the service remains strong
  4. Training for NHS 111 call handlers on referring to community pharmacies, particularly when describing the service to patients.

We are very grateful to those LPCs who gave feedback during the process, but we would also be happy to hear directly from community pharmacy teams. What else would you change to help make the service better for patients and the NHS?

If you would like to share your views, please email Alastair Buxton, PSNC director of NHS services, with the subject line ‘Improving NUMSAS’.

Faisal Tuddy is a member of PSNC and superintendent pharmacist at Asda


Leon The Apothecary, Student

Emergency supply is an interesting one, and one has to think about why we need the service in the first place? Ultimately, I personally feel in my humble opinion, it is down to a fundamental issue with how long-term prescribing is handled. Repeat Dispensing, implemented properly would eliminate the need for emergency supplies for the most part.

T Jenns, Community pharmacist

Really think it won't be long till service is discontinued. Have read somewhere recently that it will soon be possible for a doctor on duty at a&e or nhs 111 to send eps script to pharmacy. And if it isn't possible soon, why not? 

PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

the whole set up is too cumbersome and bureaucatic . all NHS services need to be made simple , less time consuming. We don't have hours on end to fill forms of which most arey archived and nobody looks at it. Including the flu vaccinstion patient questionnaire. We have proved we can deliver. Why do you need the patient to still tell you so after all these years.

Clarke Kent, Community pharmacist

Truth is no one knows the direction pharmacy is heading. Multiples and government want a streamlined ‘efficient’ service, which means reduced cost. Future isn’t services, unless funding is substantial. Seems everyone’s throwing useless ideas out there, that don’t support a pharmacy business model. Clutching at straws Mr Tuddy, not all of us have a business model that has such low running costs i.e. an isle down one of the Asda superstores, used as a dispensary, nor the financial clout of the worlds largest retailer which sees pharmacies in store as an addition, and not a necessity. To Walmart pharmacy means about the same as the ‘music and video’ department. I know this, as I worked many years for Asda, under the charismatic, highly motivated, innovative John Evans as superintendent. A great all round guy. 

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Written by John lolz.

They could abolish the whole need for a referral through 111 by going direct to the pharmacy to get an emergency supply and allow the pharmacists to claim at the end of month.

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