New Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) requirements and guidance have been published, setting the areas in which pharmacies can claim additional funding for various areas of practice.

This comes after the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework promised that the scope of the PQS in 2022/23 would be reduced, ‘to reflect the workload and capacity constraints, including the impact of the late start in Year 4’.

Notably, the risk review criteria – to ensure all pharmacy professionals understand and recognise the risks associated with their professional practice - has been moved from a gateway criteria to a domain criteria.

For the 2023/24 PQS, all registered pharmacy professionals will have to satisfactorily complete the CPPE risk management guide and passed the e-assessment within the four years prior to 31 March 2024. This four-year requirement was originally due to be introduced in the 2022/23 PQS, but it was delayed until next year’s scheme because of the start of the scheme being delayed’.

The overall funding for the PQS has remained flat from last year at £75m, although the minimum payment per point is 25p lower than last year – at £67.50 this year compared to £67.75 last year.

Changes to this year’s PQS

Rather than completing a health inequalities e-learning module, the ‘Addressing Unwarranted Variation in Care’ domain requires contractors to have a palliative and end of life care action plan in place by the end of March 2023 to use when they do not have the required stock of the 16 critical medicines or parenteral haloperidol available for a patient.

All contractors must have this action plan whether or not they routinely stock the 16 palliative and end of life critical medicines listed in the PQS guidance.

The 2021-22 PQS, which was designed to support recovery from Covid, included a dedicated ‘Digital’ domain which required pharmacists to undertake training in remote consultation skills.

It also included a domain specifically for primary care network leads relating to flu vaccination targets. Both of these domains have been removed from this year’s PQS, meaning that the total number of points available is the same for both PCN lead and non-PCN lead pharmacies.

Other changes to this year’s PQS include:

  • A new safeguarding webinar and new domestic abuse prevention training, as part of the risk management domain
  • A new cancer awareness e-learning module, as part of the Prevention domain
  • An updated CPPE inhaler technique e-assessment, under the Respiratory domain
  • The removal of last year’s anticoagulant audit
  • Changes to the number of points available for weight management interventions and referrals, under the Healthy living support domain

Claiming PQS payments

The criteria for the PQS must be met by the end of 31 March 2023, and must claim payment during the declaration period – between 6 February 2023 and 3 March 2023.

Contractors must have met the gateway criteria including a patient safety report and delivering a minimum of 20 New Medicine Services (NMS) between 1 April 2022 and end of 31 March 2023. Contractors do not need to make a declaration for the NMS as it will be automatically recorded.

Additionally, contractors must meet relevant criteria for their chosen domains, each with a number of points allocated to it.

There is £75m allocated to the PQS payments for 2022/23, which will be divided by qualifying pharmacies based on the number of points they have received. Each point will have a minimum value of £67.50 and a maximum value of £135.

To help with cash flow, until 4 November 2022 contractors can claim an aspiration payment based on the domains they plan to meet, which will be paid on 1 December 2022.

The aspiration payments will be paid at £67.50 per point, and will be reconciled to the final value per point in the 1 April 2023 payments. Alternatively, contractors can choose not to claim the aspiration payments and instead be paid on 1 April 2023.

Start respiratory domain work now

PSNC has highlighted that contractors choosing to work towards the respiratory domain must begin working towards the following from Monday 10 October and continue with this until the day of declaration.

  • Inhaler waste management;
  • Use of a spacer in patients aged 5-15 years; and
  • Personalised asthma action plans.

PSNC said that it has resources available to support contractors to meet the PQS criteria on its website, and that ‘most pharmacy teams will be very familiar with these requirements, as they have been included in previous schemes’.