Community pharmacy contractors in Scotland will receive a monthly fee of £2,000 for offering the new Pharmacy First Plus service, it has been revealed.
The service, which will launch from September in pharmacies able to provide it, will see pharmacist independent prescribers (PIPs) assessing and treating conditions that are beyond the scope of the universally available Pharmacy First Service, which launched two weeks ago.
The service will target common conditions that might otherwise require onward referral to another provider. These conditions may include urinary tract infections, allergies and dermatological presentations.
Patients can either refer themselves or be referred by another health or care provider, and pharmacies will need to satisfy themselves that the patient cannot be treated using the standard Pharmacy First service.
A circular issued by chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr yesterday said contractors will receive a £2,000 payment on the first of each month for each full month in which they offer the enhanced service (Pharmacy First commands a lower rate of £1,250 per month), with pro-rated payments made where the service stops partway through the month.
The Scottish Government and Community Pharmacy Scotland have set aside £3.3m from the global sum to fund pharmacies providing the service in 2020-21. Funding distribution details for subsequent years have not yet been agreed.
To qualify, contractors need to declare that a pharmacist independent prescriber (PIP) will be available on-site for a minimum of 25 hours per week and for a minimum of 45 weeks from when the service starts.
Community Pharmacy Scotland operations director Matt Barclay said contractors should receive a per-consultation payment on top of the flat monthly rate.
“We would expect consultations to be recorded and remunerated in tandem to capture the added value of pharmacist interactions,” he told Pharmacy Network News.
The circular also sets out how the Government plans to train up a cohort of PIPs capable of delivering the service, with an independent prescribing Foundation Programme scheduled for launch in September next year.
Pharmacists who complete the foundation course “will then transition onto a fully funded independent prescribing course,” the Scottish Government said.
Initially, PIPs will predominantly work within the parameters of Pharmacy First Plus. The Scottish Government said it wanted to “grow and nurture both this extended service and the independent prescribers delivering it in a gradual, supportive manner”.
It added: “Increasing the number of IPs and establishing the core use of the IP qualification in the community setting will enhance the pharmacy networks’ role in the clinical pathway of patients and reduce the number of Patient Group Directions needed.”
A proportion of the £1.3m non-global sum will be repurposed towards funding the necessary educational infrastructure, and work will take place in the coming months to plan a funding stream for contractors who support early years pharmacists completing the foundation programme.