Pharmacy contractors are being offered a payment of £1,630 for meeting requirements that relate to their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s (NHSE&I) new pharmacy quality scheme (PQS).

The first part of the scheme was announced earlier this week (13 July). It sets out the 14 actions contractors must have undertaken in order to qualify for their first payment and to be eligible for the second phase of the scheme.

Funding for the first half of the scheme is set at £18.75m, of which contractors will be able to claim £1,630 each.

‘All reasonable measures’

All 14 actions, set out in a checklist, focus on ensuring community pharmacy contractors and their teams have put in place ‘all reasonable measures to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic’ so as to ‘protect both themselves and the people using their services.’

One of the requirements is that contractors conduct a Covid-19 risk assessment for their pharmacy premises. Where risks have been identified, the contractors must have ‘implemented mitigating actions’, which could include the installation of above-head-height protective screens.

Another requirement is that ‘individual Covid-19 risk assessments have been offered to all members of staff’ and from these ‘appropriate mitigations’ have been put in place.

‘Recognition of work’

Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), said: ‘This first PQS scheme for 2020/21 has been developed to recognise all that prior work by contractors and their teams, and to encourage them to check that all appropriate actions have been taken to protect their staff, patients and the continuity of their service to the community, as we continue our journey through this pandemic.’

In a statement made to contractors, PSNC noted that the new PQS replaces the original 2020/21 scheme, which was due to commence in April 2020 but was put on hold due to the pandemic.

The negotiating body is currently in discussions regarding part two of the scheme, which is expected to commence in October 2020. Like part one of the scheme, part two will focus on community pharmacies’ response to the pandemic. The remainder of the PQS annual budget - a total of £56.25m - will be applied during the second part of the PQS.

Financial claims can be made through the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) Manage Your Service (MYS) portal between 14 July 2020 and 23:59 on 29 January 2021.