This means that community pharmacies can continue to recruit new patients to the service up until September 30th and will receive payment for these patients even where the service is completed in October or November 2013.
The service specification will remain the same and a maximum of £20 million in funding will be available for it during the six-month period.
No decision has been made about the future of the service beyond September. This will be an NHS CB decision that will take into account any emerging data from the Department of Health (DH) commissioned evaluation of the service.
The evaluation is currently due to report in September, but the DH has said it may need to be extended to ensure that enough patients are recruited to it – the DH is considering this at the moment.
The NMS was originally commissioned until the end of March 2013 and in the first twelve months of the service more than half a million patients received it from community pharmacies.
Sue Sharpe, PSNC Chief Executive, said:
“We are very pleased that the NHS Commissioning Board has agreed to extend the NMS while it gets to grips with its new responsibilities – it is a welcome first signal from the organisation that is to have such a significant role in determining pharmacy’s financial future.
Of course we would have liked a longer commissioning term, but it is no secret that NHS resources are extremely limited at the moment, so this funding, which represents additional money outside of core contract funding, will be welcome for contractors.
All negotiations are difficult at the moment and PSNC worked very hard to make the case to the DH and the NHS CB for the continuation of the NMS. The positive conclusions we were able to draw from our analysis of PharmOutcomes data provided the main evidence base for use by DH and the Board in their decision on re-commissioning the service. While this analysis will only be one factor in the NHS CB’s decision about the long-term future of the NMS, we are hopeful that the DH commissioned evaluation will reflect our results.”
Gary Warner, independent contractor and chair of PSNC’s Service Development Subcommittee, said:
“This decision is good news for both patients and contractors and I am delighted that the NHS CB has been able to support this important service.
As a contractor I would have liked certainty for the NMS beyond September, but I do hope that community pharmacies will use the next six months to really make the most of this service. Ongoing widespread provision of the service is vital to demonstrate pharmacy’s commitment to supporting medicines optimisation, and of course, for contractors this service represents an additional funding source which is a good thing in the current difficult climate.
On the PSNC Service Development Subcommittee we will be doing all that we can to ensure that the service is able to continue beyond September, but the NHS CB will also want to see contractors’ continued commitment to providing the service to all eligible patients to deliver the maximum benefit for individuals and the NHS.”
Locally the LPC's would echo Gary's comments and encourage all our pharmacies locally to really get behind the NMS service and make the most of it.