New guidance for community pharmacies claiming quality payments

NHS England has issued new guidance for community pharmacies wishing to claim payments this year under the Quality Payments Scheme.

The scheme financially rewards community pharmacies for improving the quality of care for patients by meeting a number of criteria centred on themes of clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient experience.

These include: becoming accredited ‘healthy living’ pharmacies, identifying high risk asthma patients and making referrals for asthma reviews, pharmacy staff becoming Dementia Friends, updating NHS Choices information, accessing electronic patient summary care records to support clinical care and supporting people starting to take a new medicine.

Up to £75 million has been made available to community pharmacies in England qualifying for the scheme which started on 1 December 2016 and runs to 31 March 2018 initially.

All declarations for payments must be made online via the NHS Business Services website which will open on 13 November and close on 8 December 2017 for the 24 November 2017 review date.

There are approximately 11,700 pharmacies in England. Since April 2017, over 94 per cent of pharmacies – 11,094 pharmacies – have made claims with 10,985 being eligible for a payment.

At the half year point, successes include an estimated 12.500 asthma patients at high risk of suffering a severe asthma attack being identified and referred for a full asthma review and greater awareness regarding the needs of people with dementia.

So far around 70,000 pharmacy staff in patient-facing roles have become Dementia Friends and other qualifying payments have been made for a range of digital improvements. These include updating all NHS Choices profiles on their opening times, services provided, such as chlamydia testing and screening, and facilities such as parking and disabled access.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Dr Keith Ridge hailed the scheme a success with significant uptake by pharmacy contractors after £31 million was paid against initial declarations made in April.  He said: “Quality payments support the continued integration of pharmacies into the wider NHS primary and urgent care system and encourage pharmacy professionals who practice in community pharmacies to make the most of their valuable clinical skills. I welcome the excellent response from community pharmacy so far and advise people to visit their local pharmacy this winter if they need advice and help with their medicines or to manage winter illnesses.”

Professor Mike Morgan, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Respiratory Services, said: “Asthma is a long-term condition that requires constant review and adjustment by the patient and the health professional. Serious attacks of asthma should not be treated as one-off episodes but seen as a failure of chronic care. These attacks, which may be fatal, can often be predicted by warning signs and frontline community pharmacists are in an excellent position to give potentially life-saving advice.”