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Primary care

Medicines optimisation in care homes scheme to end in March 2020

According to NHS England guidance, pharmacists employed through the medicines optimisations in care homes programme will be re-employed by new primary care networks to offer support to GP practices.

Clinical pharmacists employed by GP surgeries under the medicines optimisation in care homes (MOCH) programme will be moved to the new primary care network (PCN) contract when the care home scheme ends in March 2020.

According to NHS England guidance, published on 29 March 2019, clinical pharmacists contracted under the MOCH initiative are expected to be re-employed by newly established PCNs to offer specialist medicines support to GP practices.

“The [MOCH] scheme will come to end on 31 March 2020,” the guidance said. “The expectation is that upon the end of the current national scheme, these clinical pharmacists will be employed under the terms of the network contract … to support delivery of the national service specifications.”

The guidance added that NHS England is planning to work with Health Education England “during 2019 to explore the opportunities” for pharmacy technicians who currently work under the MOCH scheme to move to working across PCNs. PCNs will be run by groups of GP practices covering up to 50,000 people.

The guidance also confirmed that pharmacists currently employed under the clinical pharmacists in general practice scheme  — which stopped approving new applications at the end of March 2019 — are eligible to be employed by a PCN.

NHS England also confirmed that if the pharmacists were in post at the end of March 2019, they can be transferred to the new PCN contract.

These pharmacists also have the option of remaining on the GP clinical pharmacist scheme, but the practice would have to meet their employment costs themselves as national funding tapers off.

In cases where the clinical pharmacist was shared between a group of practices and the group is not within the same PCN, the guidance says it will be up to GPs to decide whether the clinical pharmacist becomes employed by a single PCN or by more than one.

The guidance follows the announcement in January 2019 that every PCN in England will receive £38,000 in recurrent funding to hire a clinical pharmacist from July 2019.

This funding is expected to cover 70% of the costs of hiring and maintaining a pharmacist for one year, with the PCN expected to cover the remaining 30%.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206389

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