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The Pharmacy Services Negotiating Committee has asked community pharmacy teams to take part in a pharmacy advice audit for what it called a “temperature check”.

The pharmacy negotiator made the decision to hold the second PSNC pharmacy advice audit from January 25 following mounting pressure on community pharmacies during Covid-19 pandemic and also amidst reports that general practice teams are referring patients to pharmacies for consultations informally, rather than via the agreed Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) route.

“This audit will provide a critical temperature check – the data will allow PSNC to quantify how many unfunded GP referrals are taking place, and it will tell us more about impact that Covid-19 is having on pharmacy teams and on the advice that patients are seeking from you. This will provide crucial evidence for our ongoing funding discussions with HM Government and the NHS,” the PSNC said.

“As last summer, pharmacies taking part will be asked to record data about patients coming into pharmacies seeking informal advice, but contractors will notice some changes to the questions this time around to give us data on more topical issues, including on pharmacy resilience. We are interested to get a sense of how significant workload and staffing pressures are currently.”

Pharmacists will receive a participation guide next week following a “road-test” by ten pharmacies. The testing will help the PSNC to ensure that the audit is as straightforward for pharmacy teams as it can be.

PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said: “In the past year at PSNC we have significantly upscaled our data-driven bids to government – this must continue, as we know that HM Treasury will offer us no favours, and that data is the only language they speak.

“I know that taking part in an audit is a huge amount to ask when you are as busy as most pharmacies are, but all of this will provide valuable data to strengthen our evidence to officials and Ministers: if you are able to take part, we would be extremely grateful, and your hard work will certainly be used to help us to make your case.”

Business continuity lead at PSNC Richard Brown said: “The PSNC Pharmacy Advice Audit provided some really useful data over the summer and I’m confident that we can repeat that success.

“We are making the audit as easy as possible for contractors to complete and also bringing it forward so that pharmacies can get this in before the sector’s role in the Covid-19 vaccination programme is ramped up as we hope it will be.”

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