Q Who can apply?
Practices and groups of practices are invited to bid to participate. NHS England is ‘strongly encouraging’ practices to work together on joint bids involving pharmacists across several sites.
Q When do the applications have to be in by?
The deadline is 5pm on Thursday 17 September 2015.
Q When do the pilots start?
NHS England information is currently vague on this, suggesting both ‘Winter 2015’ and ‘early 2016’.
Q How does the funding work?
At least £15 million is said to be being invested in the pilots over next three years.
NHS England will part fund the pharmacists’ pay costs during this time if they are taken on before 31 March 2016. Funding will be broken down as follows: 60% for the first 12 months of employment, 40% for the second 12 months of employment and 20% for the third 12 months of employment. It’s expected that after three years of employment, practices or federations will fund the pharmacists on their own.
Q Why have the pilots been launched?
NHS England suggests that it’s because there have been significant benefits for patients and for the practice teams in cases where practices already employ pharmacists. It says: ‘the purpose of this pilot is to encourage more practices to consider new ways of working like this. The pilot will be evaluated so that evidence can be gathered and published to assist more practices to take advantage of the lessons learned.’
Q Who will select/appoint?
Local Education and Training Boards and NHS England regional teams will assess the applications. CCGs will be involved in instances where co-commissioning arrangements are in place. NHS England says that shortlisted pilots will be reviewed by a national moderating panel.
Q What level of qualification should be expected? Will these pharmacists be prescribing?
Each pilot site is expected to include an experienced clinical pharmacist who will be a prescriber or working towards a prescribing qualification and who will begin to see patients immediately. Up to five less experienced clinical pharmacists could also be employed.
Q What ongoing training and evaluation will these pharmacists receive? Who will be responsible for delivering and/or co-ordinating this?
Pharmacists who participate will be expected to participate in development and education provided by the Centre for Postgraduate Pharmacy Education (CPPE).
NHS England is planning that the experienced pharmacist will mentor the other pharmacists. In time, these pharmacists are hoped to take on prescribing responsibilities as part of the pilot. They’re also hoped to work towards taking on such tasks as developing pharmaceutical care plans for individual patients, managing repeat prescribing requests and managing medicines shortages by suggesting suitable alternatives.
Q How will the pilot be assessed?
Once funding has been secured, the assessment will look at whether a pilot would ameliorate aspects of practice operation, such as access to GP and wider workforce, the behaviour of patients with long term conditions and communication between the practice, community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy on admission, discharge and other aspects of care.
Q What factors are likely to make an application succeed?
NHS England has said it’s going to support bids from practices in areas where vacancies in GP posts have resulted from challenges in recruitment and retention of GPs and other clinical staff. Priority will be given to areas with lowest GPs per head of population, which can demonstrate that they’ve experience such recruitment challenges.
You can also give your practice the best chance of success by making sure to show commitment to the pilot in your application, which, according to NHS England, could include key performance indicators to be used to measure success and benchmarks on current performance, a pharmacist job description and person specification and description of costing for the post.
The information available also states that applications will be assessed on how employing a pharmacist will have the potential to address the workforce need in the practice. For more information, see the full specifications here.