Community pharmacists are being given more time to make sure that they meet the gateway criteria needed as a first step towards claiming money through the Quality Payments Scheme.
The concession was described as “an important improvement” by pharmacy negotiators who secured the deal following talks with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England.
Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said: “The agreement to give pharmacies time to correct any gateway criteria that they are found not to have met, rather than simply losing out on all quality payments, is an important improvement.”
The amount of extra time allowed will be detailed in new guidance which is currently being developed by NHS England and will be released at a later date.
The concession was one of a number of changes made to the Quality Payments Scheme announced on 26 September 2018 following negotiations.
Other revisions to the gateway criteria include an updating of IT requirements for pharmacy computer systems. Contractors must also in future share the results of the official pharmacy patient questionnaire on its NHS webpage.
Changes to the quality criteria include an audit of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and gastro-protection for patients aged over 65 years, training pharmacy staff in providing child oral health, and the additional monitoring of asthma patients.
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the PSNC, said: “The PSNC considered all of the changes to the criteria that we have agreed this time very carefully indeed, and our negotiations focused on balancing the need for any changes to be as manageable for pharmacy workloads as possible, with the need for pharmacy to help the NHS as much as it can.”