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164 pathfinder sites sign up to trial independent prescribing


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The most common prescribing service is for minor ailments and it will be offered at 93 pathfinder sites.  

All 42 integrated care boards (ICBs) in England have signed memorandums of understanding for the NHS Independent Prescribing Pathfinder programme, the first nationally-funded prescribing service in the country.

Anne Joshua, interim deputy director of pharmacy commissioning at NHS England, made the revelation during the ‘Chief pharmaceutical officer bi-monthly webinar’ held on 7 March 2024, as reported by The Pharmaceutical Journal.

In the initial phase of the programme, 210 community pharmacies across all ICBs will trial independent prescribing, ahead of establishing a commissioning framework for the service.

Giving an update on the pathfinder programme, Joshua confirmed that 164 of these potential pathfinder sites had registered for the programme as of 29 February 2024.

Additionally, she announced the clinical models to be followed by the participating pharmacies and presented a graph showing an overview of the services they will provide.

The graph indicated minor ailments as the most common prescribing service, which will be offered by 93 community pharmacies. Hypertension, identified as the second most common service, will be offered at 73 independent prescribing pathfinder sites.

Respiratory services and cardiovascular disease prevention services (including lipids) will each be offered by 23 sites, contraception by 20 sites and dermatology by 12 sites.

The programme will see some sites offering novel services like prescription management being offered by 11 sites, women’s health by 10 sites, deprescribing by 8 sites, depression by 8 sites, anticoagulation by 5 sites, sexual health by 3 sites and health inequalities by 3 sites.

The pathfinders, initially slated for launch in January 2023, faced delays due to funding and implementation issues.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s official journal reported in February that Cleo Systems, the electronic prescribing system (EPS) provider, was working closely with NHS England to implement the pathfinder programme by spring 2024.

North of England Commissioning Support (NECS) has awarded a £285,000 contract to six suppliers to identify 10 pathfinder sites for North East and North Cumbria (NENC) ICB. The contract starts on 1 April 2024 and ends on 30 September 2024.

The contract summary published by the NECS on 15 March 2024 reads: “The pathfinder sites in NENC will be involved in exciting work to explore how community pharmacists can best deliver an integrated prescribing offer, for acute illnesses, alongside general practices in their local community.”

The six suppliers commissioned by NENC ICB to provide sites for the pathfinder programme are AK Medical Consultancy Ltd, Boots, Chemcare Ltd, Farah Chemists Ltd, M.D & A.G Burdon Ltd and Welcome Health Pharmacies Limited.

The NHS Pathfinder Programme aims to establish a framework for commissioning community pharmacy clinical services that incorporate independent prescribing for patients.




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