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Minor ailments

Community Pharmacy Scotland 'hopeful' pharmacists will be paid per consultation under universal minor ailments service

There are calls for the payment system for the new national minor ailments service in Scotland to reflect the clinical expertise of community pharmacists and the time devoted to each consultation.

Community pharmacists in Scotland are asking to be paid per consultation under the revamped national minor ailments service (MAS), which is due to run from April 2020.

Under the current MAS — which is only available to some patients — pharmacists are paid a fee for registering the patient and are reimbursed if a medicine is dispensed.

However, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) is negotiating with the Scottish government for pharmacists to receive funding for each consultation they undertake, irrespective of the dispensing outcome.

In a statement published on its website on 21 August 2019, the CPS argues that this payment system would recognise pharmacists’ clinical expertise and the time devoted to each consultation.

It added that this would create the data to illustrate how valuable the profession is in delivering non-urgent care — something which, according to CPS, is underestimated.

“One principle we are working to is that the remuneration for this service will, in part, be activity-based — rightly placing the value on your professional consultations with the patient, which means that your clinical expertise and time spent looking after your local communities will be recognised,” it said.

“This change will mean better recognition for the advice and care you provide, rather than focusing on whether you dispensed any medication or not.”

CPS told The Pharmaceutical Journal it was “hopeful” that the government would include a consultation payment as part of MAS remuneration.

The spokesperson said: “The financial arrangements are still under discussion so we can’t say for definite, but we believe we will end up with a situation where MAS is partly activity-based.”

They added that pharmacists will still receive some reimbursement for medication activity, “but we are looking for it to recognise the activity that an individual pharmacist puts into it, rather than purely the outcome”.

The Scottish government announced in September 2018 that it wanted to establish a national and universal MAS as part of the national community pharmacy contract.

A national MAS was introduced in Scotland in 2006, but only children, people aged over 60 years, people with a medical exemption certificate and people on certain benefits can use it.

The new model, which is still being defined, will be based on the successful MAS pilot in Glasgow, which was accessible to all irrespective of age and social circumstance.

It is expected that the new model would also include a wider range of conditions than the current service.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “Discussions are ongoing with CPS on delivery aspects of the expanded service.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206984

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