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:
- Access for all pharmacies providing the service to an IT solution that allows digital referrals to be made from NHS 111
- Include a walk-in service as part of NUMSAS
- 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
- 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