New Quality Payments Scheme (QPS) criteria for the remaining six months of 2018/19 has been unveiled by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

The QPS is a set of criteria contractors can meet in exchange for additional Government funding totalling £6,400 if all are met. PSNC negotiated the new criteria following discussions with NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Key changes to the last set of QPS criteria includes removing the safeguarding and summary care records (SCR) criteria, an audit on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and gastro-protection and additional requirements to meet the written safety report and asthma criteria.

In order to qualify for QPS points, contractors must first meet a set of gateway criteria, including having at least two live personal email addresses linked to the pharmacy’s shared NHSmail account.

A full list of gateway criteria and QPS criteria can be found on PSNC’s website.


Willingness to work in priority areas


Contractors will have until a review point15 February to meet the new QPS criteria, with a four-week window throughout the month to declare. PSNC negotiated a correction period so that any contractors who have not met gateway criteria have enough time to meet the requirements, it said.

The QPS negotiations were independent from talks with the DHSC about the next contract ‘to give contractors as much time to prepare for the upcoming February review point as possible’, PSNC said.

The negotiator said it wanted to ensure that the QPS criteria would be ‘accessible’ and ‘manageable’ for contractors. The updated requirements will help the sector ‘move in the direction it wants to – contributing to patient safety, clinical effectiveness and public health’, it said.

It added: ‘PSNC felt that it was important to signal to the Government the sector’s ongoing willingness to work in these priority areas at this early stage in rebuilding constructive working relationships with them.’


‘Carefully considered changes’


PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said: ‘PSNC is pleased to have agreed these changes to the QPS so that pharmacies can have the opportunity to earn all of the available funds for the scheme this year. The agreement to give pharmacies time to correct any gateway criteria that they are found not to have met, rather than simply losing out on all quality payments, is an important improvement.

‘Negotiations on pharmacy funding continue, but we hope our willingness to engage with this scheme sends a clear signal to Government that we want to help them to meet their priorities. The changes we have agreed should enable pharmacies to make important contributions in key priority areas such as patient safety and public health.’

Director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said: ‘The QPS has been an important change for community pharmacies in allowing us to demonstrate how we are contributing directly to some key NHS objectives. Pharmacies have stepped up to the challenge and delivered some excellent results at the last three QPS review points.

‘PSNC considered all of the changes to the criteria that we have agreed this time very carefully indeed, and our negotiations focused on balancing the need for any changes to be as manageable for pharmacy workloads as possible, with the need for pharmacy to help the NHS as much as it can.

‘Pharmacy teams should read our guidance on the criteria changes in detail, and over the coming weeks we will be adding to our set of QPS resources to help them to meet the criteria.’