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  • Treatment fund launched in Wales for newly approved drugs

    An £80m new treatment fund to pay for high-cost drugs approved for use on the NHS in Wales was launched on 10 January 2017.

    The fund will provide health boards with an additional £16m each year for five years and will be used to meet the cost of newly approved drugs for the first 12 months, after which boards are expected to pick up the bill.

    A total of £12m is being made available to health boards immediately with the promise of another £4m to come later in 2017.

    The Welsh government says it now expects health boards to introduce medicines approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) within two months from the date NICE gives its initial recommendation rather than waiting for final guidance to be published.

  • NHS England announces extra £112m for expansion of GP-based pharmacist scheme

    NHS England has announced an additional £112m investment to roll out a pilot scheme embedding clinical pharmacists in GP surgeries.

    The next round of applications, set to open in January 2017, will see a further 1,500 pharmacists working in general practice by 2020–2021, a commitment set out in the ‘General practice forward view’, which was published in April 2016.

    The expansion follows a pilot launched in July 2015, which involved 490 clinical pharmacists working in approximately 650 general practices across 90 sites.

    The scheme aims to increase capacity in general practice, as well as ensure safer prescribing by offering specialist advice and support for patients with chronic diseases.

    Providers taking part in the scheme will get funding to recruit and establish clinical pharmacists in their practices for three years.

  • Similar branding partly blamed for ‘devastating’ dispensing error

    An “overworked” community pharmacist, who pleaded guilty to dispensing the wrong drug to a patient who later died, has been sentenced to four months imprisonment suspended for two years.

    Martin White of Belfast Road, Muckamore in Northern Ireland, mistakenly dispensed propranolol instead of prednisolone, having told investigators that the two packages were “side by side on the shelf and have similar branding”.

    The 45-year-old was sentenced at Antrim Crown Court on 16 December 2016.

    White admitted at an earlier hearing on 6 December 2016 to an offence under section 64 of the Medicines Act 1968, that he had “supplied a medicinal product in pursuance of a prescription given by a practitioner, which was not of the nature or quality specified”, to the prejudice of Ethna Walsh.

    Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr said the pharmacist’s degree of culpability was the result of “poor professional performance, but not professional misconduct”, adding that there was “no evidence of intentional negligence”.

    At the hearing on 6 December 2016, the court was told how the tragedy unfolded.

    Walsh went to the Clear Pharmacy on Station Road in Antrim with her husband on 6 February 2014. Instead of being dispensed the steroid prednisolone for which she had a prescription, the couple were mistakenly given a box of propranolol.

    Prosecutor Michael Chambers told the court that, once home, Walsh took some of the tablets, but within moments had difficulty breathing. She was rushed to hospital, but later died.

    Chambers added that White later told the police that he “must have mistakenly picked up the propranolol instead of the prednisolone”, adding that the two boxes were positioned next to each other on the dispensary shelves and have similar packaging.

    While White claimed that he had carried out the required checks under the pharmacy’s standard operating procedures (SOP), he had also complained of the “cramped working space”, and that at the time he had been to see his own GP about feelings of low mood, tiredness and fatigue.

    An expert, named in the judgement as Dr Maguire, who later examined what happened told the court that the SOP was deficient as it did not require a final check by a different member of staff.

    Defence lawyer John Kearney suggested at the earlier hearing that what had happened occurred because White was “an ordinary man who struggled because he worked too hard… regularly working up to 60 hours a week… always on call”.

    Martin Astbury, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which has campaigned for the decriminalisation of dispensing errors, says the error had “tragic consequences for all concerned”.

    “We strongly believe that patient safety will be improved if the threat of automatic criminal prosecution is removed from dispensing errors because more people will report, share and learn from, their mistakes. A more open and learning culture will help improve patient care.”

Vaughan Gething, cabinet secretary for health, well-being and sport

Treatment fund launched in Wales for newly approved drugs

An £80m new treatment fund to pay for high-cost drugs approved for use on the NHS in Wales was launched on 10 January 2017.

The fund will provide health boards with an additional £16m each year for five years and will be used to meet the cost of newly approved drugs for the first 12 months, after which boards are expected to pick up the bill.

A total of £12m is being made available to health boards immediately with the promise of another £4m to come later in 2017.

The Welsh government says it now expects health boards to introduce medicines approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) within two months from the date NICE gives its initial recommendation rather than waiting for final guidance to be published.

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Vaccine coalition launched to tackle emerging global health threats

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — which will fund the research and development of vaccines to prevent emerging infectious diseases — was launched at the World Economic Forum 2017 annual general meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

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Community pharmacy forward view microsite, https://cpfv.info

Next steps for Community Pharmacy Forward View published

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and Pharmacy Voice have launched the next phase of the ‘Community pharmacy forward view’ in the form of a ‘Making it happen’ document and website.

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Hunt denies community pharmacy funding cuts will deepen NHS crisis

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has denied that the government’s decision to cut the community pharmacy budget in England will deepen the current NHS crisis.

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Scottish government confirms commitment to GP practice role for pharmacists

The Scottish government has reiterated its commitment to employ 140 prescribing pharmacists to work directly with general practices by the end of 2018.

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NHS England announces extra £112m for expansion of GP-based pharmacist scheme

NHS England has announced it will supply an additional £112m investment to roll out a pilot scheme embedding clinical pharmacists in GP surgeries.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association

Patient survey results acknowledge “huge” role clinical pharmacists in GP practices could play

The Patients Association says it wants clinical pharmacists to become part of the established primary care team, with one in every GP practice in England, following the results of a survey that asked patients and carers about pharmacists’ emerging role.

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Murray review calls for redesign of MURs and practical steps to establish national minor ailments scheme

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Pilot areas named for community pharmacy urgent medication referral scheme

NHS England has published details of a new service that will see patients referred by NHS 111 to community pharmacies for urgent repeat medicines.

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Special report

Summary care record

A one-off £200 payment will be awarded to each England-based community pharmacy contractor when the summary care record (SCR) service is activated before 31 March 2017, and pharmacies using the SCR can earn points through the Quality Payments scheme — which could be worth up to £1,280. Learn more about the service and how to use it with The Pharmaceutical Journal’s special report on the SCR.

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