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NICE guidance watchPrescriptions – guidance on prescription direction

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has issued a joint statement with the British Medical Association (BMA) on prescription direction. It reminds pharmacists and GPs of existing guidance about prescription direction, which can occur where a patient is being directed by their GP practice to a certain pharmacy to have their prescription dispensed.

The statement includes a list of activities to avoid in order to maintain good practice, including: providing a practice endorsement for a pharmacy, and suggesting that the practice, GP or member of staff would like a patient to use a particular pharmacy.

It states that where there is a financial link between a pharmacy and a medical practice, it is particularly important to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to prevent prescription direction. A nominated partner and the superintendent pharmacist should oversee this, and ensure that everyone working in the pharmacy and medical practice is aware of their responsibilities.

If GP practices or pharmacies become aware of cases of prescription direction, there may be a role for LMCs and LPCs to intercede in the first instance to resolve a problem at a local level. 

Noticeboard Prescriptions

MPS policy update – HCA home visits

HCAs who are named Associate members on your Practice Xtra package may now perform tasks applicable to MPS associate grades 1-3, including blood testing and blood pressure monitoring, in patients’ homes.

HCAs and other unregistered staff employed by your practice must always work under the supervision of an appropriate clinician. In respect of home visits, this means that a doctor or nurse must be present in the practice and available to respond to issues of concern and to review patients at the practice or at their home.

MPS will expect members to ensure clear protocols and guidance are in place, requiring HCAs to refer any clinical queries to a doctor or appropriately qualified and experienced nurse. 

Are you a GP innovator?

The RCGP is looking for GPs with innovative ideas for improving patient outcomes, transforming GPs’ working lives or the delivery of primary care. GPs are being invited to bid for posts that would allow them one day a week of paid sessional time plus a £3,000 ‘innovation fund’ and access to other RCGP support.

The programme was designed to support GPs with great ideas who are being held back by a lack of time and funding shortages. Find out more

News in brief

Department of Health – Guidance

The Department of Health has issued updated guidance on Implementing the overseas visitors hospital charging regulations. It includes information about the interface between primary and secondary care and the responsibilities of GPs in this regard (paragraphs 5.11 to 5.14). [Source: Department of Health]

NHS England – increased openness and transparency

NHS England has announced new measures aimed at increased public participation as part of its ongoing pledge to openness and transparency. The new commitments include:

  • Extending the Friends and Family Test – The programme will cover GP practices from December 2014 and all other NHS services by 2015.
  • Linking clinical data from GPs – By June 2014 the data from GP practices will be linked to data from all hospitals. [Source: NHS England] – Guidance for GPs

NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have set out the next steps they intend to take to raise public awareness about – a programme that will use information to improve the safety and care of patients.

NHS England and the HSCIC have issued Additional Guidance for GP Practices on It provides information to GPs about their responsibilities under current legislation and the action they should now be taking with regard to informing their patients. [Source: NHS England]

How to employ shared staff

Some practices are looking at sharing staff with a neighbouring practice in order to cope with the workload implications of rising demand and bidding for LESs and DESs.

The BMA has produced guidance for GP practices on how to employ shared staff. It covers secondments, joint employment, VAT considerations, alternative arrangements and managing change. It discusses the benefits and pitfalls of various ways of sharing staff between practices.

BMA, Guidance to practices on how to employ shared staff (October 2013).

Upcoming events

Event When Where What Useful links
MPS Practice Management Seminars Throughout the year Across the UK These seminars have been developed to help guide you through the minefield of patient safety and complaints. The day will be very practical and interactive, giving you the tools to take back to your practice.
Commissioning LIVE 26 March 2014 London Commissioning LIVE provides a unique forum for all stakeholders to hear the latest policy developments, share experiences and ensure that they are able to wield their new leverage to the best effect.
SSPC Annual Conference 25 April 2014 Glasgow This conference brings together a broad range of healthcare practitioners, researchers and academics from all over the world and offers an impressive range of national and international speakers.
Pulse Live 29-30 April 2014 London This year’s agenda provides a stimulating mix of plenary and keynote sessions and three conference streams tailored to the learning needs of GPs and practice managers.
MPS Primary Care Workshops Throughout the year Across the UK With the aim of minimising risk and delivering improved patient care, MPS workshops are focused on advice and practical tools and tips. Workshops include Understanding Human Error and Medical Records for GPs.
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