Pharmacists in England gained a new advanced service last October, when the new medicines service was launched on time despite claims that pharmacists had not had enough time to prepare. Other changes to the contract made at the same time included the introduction of targeted MURs and tighter governance requirements.

Contractors in Wales also gained a new advanced service, when their discharge medicines review service was launched in November. This service was designed specifically to improve compliance with medicines on discharge from hospital.

Initial take-up of the NMS service appeared relatively high, in comparison the launch of MURs at least, with around 70 per cent of pharmacies ready to provide the service by November. And initial feedback about the service itself from both pharmacists and patients was generally positive.

But the banded payment system has proved controversial, and has meant that less than half of all NMS consultations attracted a payment in the first month after launch. Talks were underway between PSNC and the Department of Health about a way to resolve the issue.