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Pharmacists to report patient safety incidents under new contract

Proportion of patients eligible for medicines review to rise to 70%

Caroline White

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Community pharmacists will be required to report anonymised patient safety incidents to the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) under the terms of the new contractual framework for 2014/15.

And they will also be expected to increase the proportion of patients eligible for a medicines review to 70%.

Details of the new framework, negotiated between NHS Employers on behalf of NHS England, and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), emerged on Monday.

Various changes have been made to the new contract, which follows complex and lengthy negotiations.

The changes will form part of the overall community pharmacy funding settlement for next year of £2.8 billion, comprising £2 billion from fees and allowances, and £800 million through agreed purchase margins for medicines.

To date, pharmacies have been able to retain purchase margin earned above the agreed £500m each year, and this provided, almost every year, substantial additional income. But since the National Audit Office investigation in 2010, there has been a drive to account fully for all margin income and to deliver a known and set amount of funding to pharmacy.

The changes agreed include the continuation of the New Medicine Service (NMS), funding for which will come from the overall settlement, as is the case for other Advanced Services.

Pharmacists will also be required to give advice about the benefits of the repeat dispensing service to appropriate patients, and they will have to report patient safety incidents to the NRLS which include pharmacy names.

Patients diagnosed with heart disease or stroke or any condition that increases their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and who are regularly prescribed four or more drugs, will be added to the target groups for a medicines use review (MUR)—structured reviews with accredited pharmacists for patients taking several drugs, particularly for long-term conditions.

The proportion of patients in the groups targeted for MURs will also have to increase from 50% to 70%.

And pharmacies will also be required to participate in a national two week audit to find out exactly how many emergency drug supplies there are in community pharmacies.

Felicity Cox, lead negotiator for the NHS Employers organisation, said: “We are pleased to have reached agreement with the PSNC on changes to the 2014/15 Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework and believe these will deliver improved care for patients.

“The continuation of the NMS and introduction of a new target group to MURs will aid in expanding the role of service delivery, harnessing the clinical skills of community pharmacists in an ever increasing way.”

Sue Sharpe, PSNC chief executive admitted that the negotiations had been protracted. But she said that both sides were pleased to have reached agreement on changes  “we believe ensure that the NHS and patients receive best value from community pharmacies, while also helping to further cement pharmacy’s role at the heart of NHS services.”

She added: “Overall we believe that these changes are a clear next step in the development of the CPCF into a framework that rewards the delivery of services rather than purely the supply function; a move that we know is a key NHS intention.”

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