NHS England will extend the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS) for six months to allow for a “proper evaluation”.
The service was phased in from December 2016 and was originally scheduled to come to an end in March 2018, but it will now run until the end of September 2018.
The NUMSAS pilot scheme was developed with Pharmacy Integration Fund money to provide a community pharmacy emergency supply service via NHS 111.
According to NHS England, around 200,000 people each year, around 2% of callers to NHS 111, require urgent supply of medicines.
To be eligible to provide the service, pharmacy staff have had to register on the NHS Business Authority website and comply with the terms of service for NHS pharmacists. Pharmacists must also be able to use the Electronic Prescription Service, NHSmail (to liaise with GPs) and the relevant messaging system to receive referrals from NHS 111.
Number of users
As of 2 October 2017, 2,502 pharmacies had registered for the service.
The number of referrals via the NUMSAS scheme hit a peak of 5,914 in August 2017, the most recent figures available.
In July 2017 in London, 42% of urgent medicine referrals went through NUMSAS, the highest figure in the country. The lowest figure was the Midlands and East area, where just 11% of referrals were made through NUMSAS.
A patient survey carried out by NHS England in October 2017 showed that 93% of 985 respondents were very satisfied with the service they received from NUMSAS, with just 1% saying they were dissatisfied.
Under the scheme, contractors are paid a consultation fee of £10 and an administration fee of £2.50 for each referral received from NHS 111 irrespective of whether or not an emergency supply is made. Where a medicine or appliance is supplied, a supply fee of £1.50 is made for the first item and an additional £0.50 is paid for each additional item supplied.