Top GPs have questioned the worth of lucrative new payments for pharmacists to review the medication of patients with long-term conditions.
The new medicine service (NMS), administered by pharmacists with the aim of improving adherence to medication, is projected to cost £55 million per year and with pharmacists receiving £25 per patient for checking complex prescribing regimes.
As part of the new contract between NHS Employers, pharmacists will target any patient newly prescribed medication for asthma, COPD, type 2 diabetes, hypertension or antiplatelet/anticoagulation therapy.
Pharmacies will be paid a one-off implementation payment of £750 for the new medicine service and then monthly target payments of £25 per patient, which depend on meeting targets based on prescription volume.
The community pharmacy contractual framework will also bolster the effectiveness of the existing MUR scheme by introducing outcome measures for each target group and measures which will improve post-payment monitoring. But the cost of the new initiatives have been questioned by top GPs.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse that there was a widespread belief among colleagues that the reviews were a poor use of NHS money and that any extension of the regime was not to be welcomed.
Dr Vautrey said: ‘Many GPs do question the value of MURs, particularly when they are not co-ordinated with practices or appear to duplicate what a practice has already done with the patient.
‘If MURs are to be done it is important for GPs and pharmaceutical practices to work together to get the best value from them.'
A spokesperson from NHS Employers defended the scheme: ‘The Medicines Use Review service supports patients on multiple or high risk medicines, particularly those receiving medicines for long term conditions and who may well not be taking them correctly. We continue to listen to GPs and other community pharmacy stakeholders on any issues associated with MURs and are working to ensure that the new targeted MURs continue to support patient care.'
Alistair Buxton, head of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee told Pulse: ‘We have just [Wednesday] met with the GPC in order to work more closely with GPs on this new system. It should mean a much better and efficient working relationship between pharmacists and GPs leading to better patient care and less waste.'