Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.
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A newly agreed Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) will focus solely on ensuring contractors in England have taken “all reasonable measures” to protect their staff and patients from COVID-19.
Funding for the scheme, which covers the first half of financial year 2020/2021, is set at £18.75m, and contractors will be able to claim £1,630 if they meet all the 14 criteria set out.
One of the requirements is that individual COVID-19 risk assessments should be offered to all members of staff and that contractors should then “put in place any appropriate mitigations”.
Other items on the checklist include ensuring that the pharmacy has a system in place for referring staff with COVID-19 symptoms for testing, and that an infection control risk assessment has been completed.
In a statement, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said the new scheme replaced the original quality payments scheme that PSNC had agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement, which had been due to start in April 2020.
PSNC said that “many contractors will already have undertaken most, if not all, of the actions in the checklist over the last few months”.
Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at PSNC, said: “This first PQS for 2020/2021 has been developed to recognise all that prior work by contractors and their teams, and to encourage them to check that all appropriate actions have been taken to protect their staff, patients and the continuity of their service to the community, as we continue our journey through this pandemic.”
A new pharmacy quality scheme was introduced as part of the new community pharmacy contract, which was agreed in 2019. Under the agreement, £75m was to be available for contractors who met all criteria, but the PSNC accepted that this may have been difficult for some to achieve. The second part of the 2020/2021 PQS will provide the remainder of the annual £75m budget.
The PQS for the second half of this financial year is also likely to focus on the pandemic, with details published in September 2020 at the latest, the PSNC added.