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The new funding model has opportunities for extra services

"The payments scheme underpins the government’s drive to put more focus on quality services"

The Quality Payments Scheme gives English pharmacies a chance to mitigate the cuts, says Numark's John D'Arcy

There’s no doubt that the upcoming 12% cut to pharmacy funding in England – announced by the Department of Health (DH) last month – is a major blow for the sector.

These changes, due to come into effect next month, will have a negative financial impact, especially for independent community pharmacies. So now is the time for independents to look ahead and focus on maximising profits that are within their control. Taking advantage of any extra revenue opportunities, such as the new Quality Payments Scheme (QPS), will make a difference and has to be a good starting point.

The QPS, which is to be introduced by the government in December, will see £75 million-worth of payments being made to pharmacies if they meet certain standards, such as regularly accessing patient records.

Pharmacies will be required to meet four criteria before being considered for the payments, including the provision of at least one specified advanced service and ongoing use of electronic prescriptions.

After that, funding will be made available to eligible pharmacies depending on how many “points” they can rack up. The QPS points system is weighted on an assessment of the difficulty of achieving each criterion, and while it isn’t set in stone, the DH expects each point to have a value of £64. With a maximum of 100 points per pharmacy to be earned, pharmacies could bolster their income by more than £6,000 per year.

Some independents may assume the requirements to meet the criteria are onerous, when in fact the reality is that many are already operating under these standards. Achieving healthy living pharmacy (HLP) status and training staff to become Dementia Friends for instance, are two areas that many Numark members already deliver.

The HLP model builds on the great work that many pharmacies already do. Additionally, accreditation can help independents secure further contracts for services. There are examples where new services have been promoted exclusively to HLP-accredited pharmacies, and there is also early evidence that tenders or bids from these pharmacies are looked on more favourably.

The QPS not only opens doors to prospective new services, but also gives independents the tools to deliver quality services and broaden their customer reach. While its potential success is still under question, there’s no denying that this underpins the government’s drive to put more of a focus on quality services in pharmacy. It also has the potential to provide some small relief from the cuts for independent pharmacies.

So, while there are most certainly challenging times ahead for the sector, we mustn’t miss the opportunities that are on the table. The old maxim “use it or lose it” will most probably apply in this case, if we don’t grab the QPS and make it ours.

It may be a small consolation to some who will be hit hard by the cuts, but maximising the financial support on offer could ease the pressure and also increase customer footfall in the long-term.

John D’Arcy is managing director of Numark

19 Comments

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Do you work for C&D?

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

It's like the MURs all over again. Average 40k cut to category M...but you have the chance to make 12k back by doing 400 MURs. How did that scheme work out? The governments only take away from pharmacy. Both Labour and Tory. Why? Because we (pharmacists) are CRAP at lobbying....or bribing....or forming influencial "friends"...what ever you want to call it. Mainly because the influence of big multiples ensure no cuts go for their model of vertical integration. I believe the ultimate dream of the government is for all pharmacies to be run by amazon in conjunction with boots....privately 

Christopher Ruane, Community pharmacist

Pharmacy was always a soft target. Supposed national debt is some 1.6 trillion but cuts in the pharmacy contract has absolutely no impact on interest payments for public borrowing now or post brexit. These cuts mark the beginning of the end for smaller players and more cuts will eventually close them no matter how little they try paying pharmacists. A decison was made in advance regardless of any debate which would come. The future is for scaled operations only and this means pharmacists surplus to requirement.

Dave Downham, Manager

No doubt Numark will be on hand to help us hit these criteria...

Mandeep Mudhar, Marketing

Hardly enthusiasm Valentine - it is just stating the facts and reality we are in now with the funding model. None of are singing on the rooftops with joy about the terrible situation we are in - just trying to make sure we grab every penny available to us before that gets lost too

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Is it mandatory for those pharmacies under PhAS ???

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

What about pharmacists who are struggling to meet the already unrealistic workload being placed upon us? Is this scheme not destined to become another target - "racking up points" as you put it and even more pressure being heaped on us? Has anybody taken the least bit of notice of the workplace pressure concerns raised? Sorry John, I don't share your enthusiasm...

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Dont worry, pharmacists will find an 'efficient' way of managing any new targets, they are quite the box tickers 

 

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Have you actually looked at the scheme's content?  I don't think any of these things are particularly onerous; in fact, I'd argue most of these to be basic things that any NHS contractor should be doing.  Fulfilling these criteria will help further improve the standing community pharmacy has with patients, commissioners and the NHS as a whole. 

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Ben, reading from your boss' handbook again.  

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Agreed Ben. Our major issue is with the requirements to keep things up to date online. How do you do that? I'm sure that that info will be forthcoming. The rest is just good professional and business planning and won't require much jumping through any additional hoops. 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Ben, you sound like my Area Manager! If I had £1 for every time I've been asked to do another little job in pharmacy 'that will only take 5 mins' then I could retire now...

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Ben is one of those people beloved by Boots. They load him like a donkey with all the work and sit back and watch profits soar whilst good ol' Ben keeps smiling like a good serf. He's later given a gold sticker as the best employee in the region or niminated for C&D best pharmacist in the world.

 

Dave Downham, Manager

What's your problem? Did you get turned down for a job at C&D or something? 

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Yes sadly I was. Do you work for C&D ?

Dave Downham, Manager

Sorry to hear that. Explains why you are well balanced - a chip on both shoulders.

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

And any explaination as to why you're the PR mouthpiece of C&D ? 

Dave Downham, Manager

Get a life, sunshine, grown ups are talking.

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Oh dear....

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