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Community pharmacists are able to expect that new arrangements for sorting prescriptions that have a net ingredient cost of more than £100 will increase their workload by up to 24 hours a month or take around 30 seconds per item.

The calculation on increased workload was revealed in a snapshot survey of members of the National Pharmacy Association about the new sorting arrangements which were to be introduced by NHS Prescription Services last month.

From April community pharmacists in England are expected to sort separately prescription forms containing individual items with a net ingredient cost of £100 or more and specials.

The NPA is concerned that the changes, were brought in at short notice and will be both bureaucratic and time-consuming.
NPA chairman Ian Facer said: “Pharmacies are increasingly busy and there is no spare time to do the job of the pricing authority for them.

“The NPA is currently spearheading a drive to limit the burden of paperwork in community pharmacy, so we cannot let this matter pass unchallenged.”

The NPA is contacting the Prescription Pricing Division of NHS Prescription Services to discover how long the new sorting arrangements are likely to last and how long it will be before its modernised system will be fully functional.

Mr Facer said: “In other words when will it finally work?”

The new arrangements were revealed by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which said that the changes were meant to improve reimbursement accuracy and would allow the service to “pay particular attention to expensive items and specials”.