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Meet MUR’s new sibling: NMS

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Some will welcome it as anopportunity for the profession to showcase its skills.  Others will see it as an unwelcome addition toan already overloaded working day.

NMS, or New Medicine Service, isthe fourth advanced service shortly to be added to the pharmacy contract.  Up to £55 million a year will be ploughedinto it, though this is tempered by £110 million of reductions.  It will see pharmacists counselling patients whostart on new long term medication and asking follow-up questions after two tofour weeks.  Pharmacists will have to beaccredited to provide the service.  It isnot expected to be implemented before July.

It could be argued that newmedicine counselling should be being done anyway.  But as anyone who has worked in communitypharmacy knows, what should be done isn't always what is done.  In the constant battle of time versus taskssomething has to give and it's often the things that are thought to benon-essential.  It's hoped the servicewill lead to improved health outcomes for patients and reduced medicinewastage.  It's unclear how theseobjectives will be measured as yet.

This new service comes at acritical time in the interim period between PCTs being dissolved and new commissionerstaking over.  These new commissionerswill no doubt be looking at the success of this service when making theirfuture commissioning decisions.  If theprofession is to move towards being service based it needs to prove it can deliverservices effectively.

It's crucial that the outcomes ofthe service are measured.  The outcomes ofMURs have been poorly measured in the past but now new measures have beendeveloped.  This will finally be a chancefor the profession to quantify its benefits in the terms that mean most tocommissioners: pounds and pence.  It'shopefully the first step towards the development of a compelling evidence-basesupporting pharmacy services.

The biggest barrier to theimplementation of NMS will likely be the same as the barrier to implementingMURs: time constraint.  It's unfortunatethat this issue has yet to be tackled. It's something I've blogged about in the past here.

Hopefully this issue won'tconstrain NMS from being the success it should be.  At face value it seems obvious thatcounselling patients will lead to increased adherence and the associatedcost savings and improvement in health outcomes.  Let's hope this translates into practice.

 I've previously written about poor performance measurement in pharmacy in an article for the PJ (6/11/10, p508), it is available to read here.

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