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Initial details of the new Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) for 2021/22 released on Thursday (August 12) with a focus on priorities supporting recovery from Covid-19.

PSNC, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have agreed to the arrangements for the 2021/22 scheme.

“The scheme will officially begin on 1st September 2021 with a declaration period in February 2022. As with previous schemes, it has £75m funding available and contractors will be able to claim an Aspiration payment if they wish to, later this year,” PSNC said.

“In our negotiations on the scheme, a key win for PSNC was reducing the scope of this year’s PQS so that the estimated contractor costs and time required to complete the criteria will be well below those associated with the original NHS proposal for the scheme.”

PSNC hopes that this, along with arguing for more realistic targets across the scheme, will help reduce the impact on contractor workload.

Discussions on PQS formed part of wider negotiations for Year Three of the five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF). However, given that the scheme is now due to begin in a matter of weeks, PSNC pressed for the details to be released now to give contractors a head start on preparation.

The announcement outlines what will be included in the PQS this year, noting:

  • Gateway criteria of at least 20 NMS, patient safety and COVID-19 risk management requirements, plus training on LASA errors and sepsis;
  • Identifying people who would benefit from weight management advice and onward referral;
  • Training on health inequalities and producing an action plan to actively promote COVID-19 vaccinations;
  • Training to develop remote consultation skills;
  • Enhancing antimicrobial stewardship using the Target antibiotic checklist;
  • An anticoagulant audit to enhance patient safety;
  • Engagement with PCNs to increase flu vaccination uptake; and
  • Checking inhaler technique (as part of catch-up NMS) and ensuring patients have personalised asthma action plans, as well as encouraging return of unwanted and used inhalers for environmentally safe disposal.

PSNC advised contractors to review this initial information on the PQS and additional guidance and resources which it will be publishing over the next few days, so contractors can begin work to meet the requirements as early as possible.

Eight of the twelve training requirements have been included in previous PQS; if staff have previously completed the training and, where applicable, successfully passed the e-assessment, there is no requirement to complete this again.

Commenting on the announcement, PSNC Director of NHS Services, Alastair Buxton, said: “The Pharmacy Quality Scheme is now a standard fixture in the community pharmacy contract, providing the sector with an excellent opportunity to show our commitment to patients, further develop our clinical practice and be rewarded for providing high quality care.

“However, with Covid-19 still on all our minds, PSNC has negotiated to reduce the scope of the Government’s original proposal to help manage the impact on contractor workload and costs. We also pushed back to ensure targets across the scheme were realistic in the current environment.”

“By pushing Government for the release of these details ahead of other Year Three arrangements, we were seeking to give contractors more time to get going with the scheme, but we also hope that news on the rest of the negotiations will be published shortly, once internal Government processes are complete.”

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