NHS England has published details of a new service that will see patients referred by NHS 111 to community pharmacies for urgent repeat medicines.
The NHS Urgent Medicines Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS) will be piloted from 1 December 2016 through five clinical commissioning group (CCG) areas in England — Brighton and Hove CCG; Guildford and Waverley CCG; Blackpool CCG and Fylde and Wyre CCG; Nottingham City CCG; and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG. The second phase of the pilot will start in January 2017, when the service will be tested across the East of England, the North East and the North West. The service will then be rolled out across another eight areas of England and will run until March 2018.
A service specification for the pilot sets out how the NHS 111 urgent medication referral scheme will be run and outlines the reimbursement that will be paid to pharmacies taking part in the pilot — £10 will be paid for each consultation following a referral from NHS 111, regardless of whether a supply is made. Fees will also be paid for supplying an item and for the additional work involved to support evaluation of the pilot.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which represents pharmacy contractors, says it is disappointed that the scheme will not cover patients who have been referred by routes other than NHS 111 and points out that the volume of referrals is likely to be relatively low. “Clearly the likely volume of transactions per pharmacy will need to be a factor that is considered when contractors make a decision on whether they wish to seek to provide the service,” the PSNC says.
In a letter dated 29 November 2016, Bruce Warner, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for England, called on pharmacies to support the pilot. He added that further guidance on the service will be published in December 2016.
The pilot is the first initiative to be supported by the Pharmacy Integration Fund, set up as part of the government’s plans for the community pharmacy sector in England, which include significant cuts to the community pharmacy budget.