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DH imposes ‘reduced’ Pharmacy Quality Scheme despite PSNC warnings

Pharmacy News

DH imposes ‘reduced’ Pharmacy Quality Scheme despite PSNC warnings

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced a “reduced” Pharmacy Quality Scheme for 2023-24 with fewer activities and criteria than it had previously sought, despite previous warnings from PSNC that the current funding envelope will not support pharmacies to engage with the PQS.

The PQS, which launches on June 1, will have a “value of 60 per cent of the originally planned PQS” at £45m, PSNC said yesterday (April 27), with the remaining £30m “used as an alternative to reducing fees to help ensure that there is no over-delivery of fees in this financial year”.

There will be one gateway criterion to qualify for any PQS funding: the requirement to carry out a minimum of 15 NMS consultations by the end of the year.

There are three quality criteria: Medicines safety and optimisation, which includes an anticoagulants clinical audit and a commitment to have a palliative care medicines action plan; Respiratory, which includes requirements to show that all patients with a new inhaler prescription are offered an NHS consultation; and Prevention, which includes commitments around antimicrobial stewardship.

PSNC said the imposition of the PQS was “in contradiction of our warnings to Ministers” but added that it recognised “the importance of some elements of the PQS to patients and the NHS, and the fact that the scheme continues to demonstrate pharmacy’s commitment to, and exceptional performance on, quality”.

PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison said: “As reported a number of weeks ago, we have been clear with Government and the NHS that their money has run out – there is simply not enough funding available for pharmacies to deliver new services in year 5. It’s incredibly frustrating that these warnings are not being heeded – there is simply no point in NHS England rolling out services that pharmacies cannot afford to provide or deliver to the standard patients deserve.   

“That said, we recognise that Ministers have made helpful concessions on the PQS – reducing the scope of the work involved, including the removal of the two clinical audits this year, and rerouting some of the funding into core funding. This is an improvement on previous years, although I know that in reality it is far too little to help ease the crippling pressures that contractors are grappling with.”

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