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Electronicjuice
Vol 269 No 7225 p731
23 November 2002

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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee ()


Remuneration to rise by 3.6 per cent

No changes are proposed to the fees for dispensing prescriptions. This will lead to a £5m overpayment by the end of this financial year

A revised offer of a 3.6 per cent increase in community pharmacy remuneration has been accepted by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

The offer, backdated to 1 April, is expected to turn a nearly ?5m underpayment from last year into a ?5m overpayment by the end of this financial year because the Department of Health does not intend to change any of the current professional fees for National Health Service dispensing.

Sue Sharpe, PSNC chief executive, said: "We were very surprised to learn that they had made no dispensing volume forecast. At present the trend suggests a 6 per cent increase and the Department now suggests that it will be 6.25 per cent. We have had no discussions about how, or if at all, there should be any fee adjustments."

Making it clear that the PSNC is not going to propose cuts, Mrs Sharpe added: "The issue for them is at what point they are going to come to us to make changes."

Other matters considered at the PSNC November meeting are reported below.

Cost modelling Thirty representative pharmacies will get a test questionnaire in the next few weeks to help develop a model for the costing of NHS pharmaceutical services. The PSNC and the Department want to arrive at a common understanding and to develop a model that can be used to test changing demands and workforce configurations. The outcome is not expected until the end of 2003. "We hope that future funding can be negotiated from a rational evidence base," said Mrs Sharpe. "There is general acknowledgement and understanding in Government that the global sum does not provide reward for services or cover the full cost of providing them."

Three-year planning The newly constituted local pharmaceutical committees will want to see the planning at an early stage. "This could be detrimental for quite a period of time if there isn't funding for locally negotiated pharmacy services," Mrs Sharpe warned (PJ, 16 November, p701).

Workforce The PSNC is to support in broad terms the Department's proposals for delegating tasks to pharmacy technicians (PJ, 5 October, p469) and the regulation of NVQ level 3 technicians by the Royal Electronicjuice. Of more concern to the PSNC is the proposal to require all pharmacy support staff to be qualified to NVQ level 2. This could create a catch-22 because no one would be able to work in a pharmacy without the qualification and no one would be able to get the qualification because it requires job-based training, said Mrs Sharpe. The proposal would be acceptable if trainees were to be allowed and if employers were to be allowed six to eight weeks to assess new staff before embarking on training. The PSNC rejected the proposal that pharmacies should continue to operate while pharmacists are absent for short periods because this would jeopardise patient safety and convenience.

Repeat dispensing The Department has increased its offer for pharmacies involved in repeat dispensing pilots to a startup fee of £150 per pharmacy, £100 a month and funding for any increase in prescription volume. It expects there to be low take-up among general practitioners and patients. "We've accepted this as an interim arrangement for pathfinder sites on the basis that the Department will fund the increased prescription volume," Mrs Sharpe said. "There is no agreement on a long-term basis for funding." The PSNC has asked for an assurance of full funding for any amendments to the terms of service that might be necessary to introduce repeat dispensing nationwide.

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