First 14 independent prescribing pathfinder sites have gone live, says NHS England

Wasim Baqir, senior pharmacist at NHS England's pharmacy integration fund, said funding had been confirmed for the Independent Prescribing Pathfinder Programme to be delivered this year.
Pharmacist using computer in pharmacy

A total of 14 independent prescribing pathfinder site pharmacies have gone live as “proof of concept”, with a total of 180 sites ready for roll out, a senior NHS England pharmacist has confirmed.

Speaking at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress (CPC), held at ExCeL London on 11 May 2024, Wasim Baqir, senior pharmacist for the pharmacy integration fund at NHS England, said that NHS England has confirmed funding for 2024 “to deliver the [pathfinder] programme this year”.

A slide presented by Baqir showed that the 14 sites that have gone live prior to an electronic prescribing system (EPS) for the independent prescribing system being ready.

The slide added that NHS England was “working with EPS solution provider to develop a testing schedule for [patient medication record] suppliers and pathfinder sites”.

The presentation also revealed that 13 pathfinder clinical models have been approved by integrated care boards (ICBs) across England, to cover: minor ailments, hypertension, respiratory, contraception, cardiovascular disease/lipids, dermatology, prescription management, antidepressant review, deprescribing, women’s health, long-term care management, anticoagulation and sexual health.

Also speaking at CPC, James Milner, integrated care system community pharmacy clinical lead at Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICB, which will host three pathfinder sites, said that the clinical models will be delivered in three phases, categorised as core models and extended models.

“The idea behind it [the categorisation] is that it gives the independent prescriber a chance to get used to the active prescribing, before they start moving into something that may be a little more unfamiliar,” he said.

Under the Independent Prescribing Pathfinder Programme, up to 210 community pharmacies across all 42 ICBs in England will trial independent prescribing, ahead of establishing a commissioning framework for the service.

The pharmacies taking part in the independent prescribing programme were originally planned to launch in January 2023, but have faced complications owing to issues with funding and implementation.

In February 2024, a spokesperson for IT provider Cleo Systems told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the EPS for the pathfinder programme should be ready by spring 2024.

At the time, a spokesperson for NHS England told The Pharmaceutical Journal that work was still ongoing to implement IT systems to “ensure they work effectively with existing systems”.

In his presentation, Baqir added that a “summative qualitative evaluation” of the pathfinder programme will be conducted by the University of Manchester and management consultancy ICF International. The report is expected to be published in early 2025.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2024, Vol 312, No 7985;312(7985)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.314186

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