The Government cannot confirm what the next Quality Payments Scheme (QPS) will look like and when it will kick off, The Pharmacist has learned.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told The Pharmacist today (8 March) that ‘no decisions have yet been made on the QPS for pharmacy for 2018/19’.

It added: ‘Negotiations are still on-going and it’s not yet clear when an announcement will be made.’

‘Appropriate funding’

The current QPS, which started on 1 December 2016 and ends on 31 March 2018, was introduced at the same time as Government cuts to English community pharmacy funding as a way to mitigate losses.

A £75m pot of funding – taken from the £2.6m overall pharmacy funding budget – is paid to pharmacies that meet certain criteria, such as training staff to become Dementia Friends or becoming Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP) accredited. 

Since April 2017, more than 94% of pharmacies in England have made a QPS claim. Of these, 10,985 were deemed eligible for payments.

To be eligible for the scheme, pharmacies must meet certain gateway criteria, including providing at least one specified advanced service, have an up-to-date NHS Choices profile, and use and NHSmail and Electronic Prescription Service (EPS).

Payments are made depending on how many quality criteria contractors meet, based on a point system. Each point is worth £64, with a maximum of 100 point to be earned.

Pharmacies applying for the scheme were reviewed in April and November 2017 to determine if they were meeting requirements.

The Pharmacist contacted NHS England to find out how much of the £75m fund has been spent so far.