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Time to channel your inner Ben Stokes

By Legsider

Summer’s nearly over, and it’s been an exciting one for cricket fans . There was the World Cup victory at Lords, then the amazing Heist at Headingly thanks to a heroic innings by Ben Stokes. However, before each of those achievements were grim times, like the Cup loss to Sri Lanka and being bowled out for 67 by the Aussies.

Now for my slightly tenuous (only slightly? – Ed) analogy with community pharmacy. The next few months are going to be hard work. There’s an awful lot to do, and we will all struggle for time and resource to get it done. It will feel a lot like being bowled out for 67 before we get anywhere near celebrating.

The third day of a test match is known as moving day, as the result of the game starts to take shape. It’s going to be moving quarter for us in community pharmacy as we enter the second half of the NHS year. So what will we need to be doing to start to shape our victory?

Let’s start with vaccination season. The fridge is full of flu jabs, though as usual, supply constraints make delivering the service harder than it need be. Year-on-year growth for pharmacy flu has been 60, 41 and 7 per cent and last season we contributed over 13 per cent of primary care vaccinations. If we are to continue improving our performance, and we should, at least 18,000 patients will be vaccinated every day in pharmacy over the next 13 weeks. Last year 2,700 pharmacies did not  participate in flu vaccination, and 2,200 of them delivered MURs. It will be hard to justify not providing flu vaccinations this year.

It’s time to register for the Community Pharmacy Consultation Scheme. If PSNC and Government are correct, this service could finally position pharmacy first as an access point to wider NHS services. Ambitious projections expect 20-40 million appointments to be shifted from general practice to pharmacy. Even at the lower end this will dwarf the retiring MUR service with pharmacies seeing 30-40 patients a week, with the service income generated of a similar level to the establishment payment.

Of course this won’t happen this year, or next. It will take at least the five years of the new contractual framework to get to that level, but some areas will ramp up much quicker than others. Pharmacies will have to make sure they sign up for the service on the NHSBSA MYS portal – £900 remember – and you’ll want to keep an eye on your LPC and the CPPE website to book on local workshops.

It will feel a lot like being bowled out for 67 before we get anywhere near celebrating

Expect your PCN to start doing something this autumn. They’re already in receipt of about £1 per patient, and by the end of the year can expect that to double. CCGs will expect them to spend that delivering part of their agenda to be eligible for the monies that should flow into PCNs from April onwards. Again, look out for updates from your LPC and be prepared to engage with your PCN when the time comes.

With the imminent demise of MURs, at least there’s one thing you need only pay lip-service to before Christmas. You will want to start making a concerted effort on NMS, though. At least it doesn’t require a judgement call - patients are eligible or they’re not. If they’re eligible, they deserve to be offered and engaged in the service. Drug Tariff payment bands for NMS max out at £28 for four to five NMS per 1,000 items. Most pharmacies get paid at the lowest band of £20. Lots has been written about how achievable that top banding is, but for those 7,209 pharmacies in the bottom band, there’s lots of headroom to improve.

Finally you’ll need to pay attention to the rejuvenated Pharmacy Quality Scheme, though at this point ensuring you meet the gateway criteria and can claim the aspiration payment is enough.  Keeping on top of your NHSmail and your NHS Choices profile should be custom and practice by now.

Does that seem enough to start with? I’ve not even mentioned the anti-microbial stewardship and Stoptober public health campaigns. And there’s been a particularly virulent flu season in the southern hemisphere – usually a good predictor for our winter.

Oh – and revalidation. And Brexit.

No one ever said it would be easy, and I know it’s going to be really hard for some. But whether you’re the Ben Stokes or the Jack Leach in your pharmacy, one can’t succeed without the other, and neither can succeed without the foundation built by the rest of the team.

Let’s go knock it for six.

Outsider is a community pharmacist



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