Pharmacies offering the NHS ‘Pharmacy First’ scheme in Scotland will receive base payments of £1,250 per month from 1 October 2020, the Scottish government has confirmed.
Under the terms of the service, set out in a circular published by the Scottish government on 1 July 2020, the pharmacies will also be paid per activity, with equal weight given to advice, referrals and medicines supplied after a Pharmacy First consultation.
The scheme, which replaces the Minor Ailment Service (MAS), will launch across Scotland on 29 July 2020, after having been postponed from its original start date of 22 April 2020 to allow pharmacy teams to focus on managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the start of the scheme until 30 September 2020, pharmacies will continue to receive the “transitionary payment put in place from 1 April 2020”, the circular said.
However, from 1 October 2020, contractors will receive a monthly base payment of £1,250 as well as a share of the “activity pool”: a figure that will vary according to how many activities the pharmacy undertakes.
The circular adds that the activity recorded during the transitionary period “will be used to gauge the precise parameters of the remuneration arrangements from 1 October 2020”.
In an FAQ published on its website, Communtiy Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) said it was “critical that all consultation activity is recorded so that the pharmacy team’s hard work is recognised properly”.
Both CPS and the Scottish government have contributed funding to the service.
Adam Osprey, policy and development pharmacist at CPS, said: “We welcome the agreed funding and commitment to the service that the Scottish government has shown — and indeed we have matched it to demonstrate our commitment and belief in the service.”
“The distribution method is designed to be adaptable and we have always been clear that it would change over time to more closely reflect individual activity levels.”
The Scottish government has also published an approved list of products available through NHS Pharmacy First, which was drawn up after discussions with stakeholders — including all 14 NHS health boards and CPS.
The products that may be supplied fall under 11 groups based on categories in the British National Formulary.
However, in the list document, the government said: “Wherever possible, providing lifestyle advice and support to manage minor conditions should be the preferred course of action, with treatment supplied and referrals made only where necessary.”
To help pharmacies transition to the new service, products supplied from local MAS formularies will be reimbursed until 1 October 2020 — even if those products are not on the approved list.
In a video update published on 2 July 2020, Harry McQuillan, chief executive of CPS, said that the list “is a working document”.
“Once we’ve got some usage and some feedback, it can be changed after a period where we’ve managed to gather the evidence of what needs to change — if anything,” he said.