Plans to increase the number of pharmacist independent prescribers in Scotland to support the new NHS Pharmacy First Plus service have been unveiled.
NHS Pharmacy First Plus, which is designed to be delivered as a “when required/walk-in service”, is an extension of the recently launched NHS Pharmacy First service. Patient eligibility will mirror the criteria for NHS Pharmacy First.
The earliest starting month the extended service is likely to start is September 2020. Pharmacies will be paid a monthly fee of £2,000 for providing the service, and a pharmacist IP must be available to deliver it for a minimum of 25 hours per week, for a minimum of 45 weeks of a rolling year from the date the service starts.
A combined National Foundation Programme and Independent Prescriber (IP) Career Pathway for community pharmacists, to tie in with the roll-out of NHS Pharmacy First Plus, has been announced in the latest NHS circular from Scottish chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr.
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 delivering this type of service and reduce the number of patient group directions needed, the circular says.
During 2020/21 a funding stream will be developed for contractors who support early years pharmacists in completing the NES Foundation programme. The capacity of the programme for community pharmacists will also be increased, with the aim that the first funded cohort will start training in September 2021.
Those successfully completing the Foundation course will then move onto a fully funded Independent Prescribing course.
There will be separate entry streams for qualified community pharmacists wishing to gain their IP qualification and for independent prescribers wishing to undertake common clinical conditions training.
Initially, the core use of the IP qualification in community pharmacy will be for the management of acute common clinical conditions as part of NHS Pharmacy First Plus. The intention is to "grow and nurture both this extended service and the IPs delivering it in a gradual, supportive manner".
From September 2020 a proportion of the £1.3 million non-global sum will be repurposed towards funding educational infrastructure to support the joint Scottish Government and Community Pharmacy Scotland strategy of increasing the number of community pharmacist IPs.
Scottish Government and CPS have also set aside a £3.3m budget in the global sum allocation for 2020-21 to support pharmacy contractors who have existing IPs and who confirm that they will provide the service. The funding distribution for subsequent years has not yet been agreed.