This means that pharmacy contractors can continue to provide the NMS to all eligible patients, with all service requirements and payment arrangements remaining the same, until further notice is given or the end of 2014/15 is reached.
The decision to let the service continue was informed by initial findings from the evaluation of the service which was commissioned by the Department of Health (DH).
The full evaluation findings will be subject to the usual academic scrutiny, with the final report not now expected to be published before May 2014.
When the final evaluation is published, NHS England will use it to decide whether to continue commissioning the service. PSNC is of course very hopeful that the evaluation will reflect earlier findings and so that the service will be able to continue to the end of 2014/15 and then beyond.
Alastair Buxton, Head of NHS Services at PSNC, said:
“Of course we’re delighted to see this valuable service being continued, as we know the benefits it can and is bringing for patients across England.
In the current financial climate the value of all NHS services is being closely scrutinised so it is no surprise that NHS England will be assessing the final results of the NMS evaluation carefully later in the year; but we have no reason to suspect that those findings will do anything other than mirror the positive outcomes we have so far seen from the service.
So for now the message remains the same as ever – we believe this is a really important service for patients, the NHS and community pharmacies, and we would very much encourage all pharmacies to offer it to as many eligible patients as they possibly can.
We know the difference the service can make, but we need to keep providing it whenever we can to help our patients and to show the NHS what we can do; the latter is particularly important at the moment as NHS England starts to consider the future of the sector following its Call to Action.”