Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) Part One

pharmacy quality scheme

A new Pharmacy Quality Scheme for the first part of 2020/21 was announced on 13th July 2020 with a primary focus on Covid-19. It is to ensure that community pharmacy contractors and their teams have put the necessary measures in place to respond to the pandemic to help protect themselves and the people within the community using their services.

The Pharmacy Quality Scheme was specifically designed to reward community pharmacies for delivering quality criteria in all three of the quality dimensions. These include clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient experience. In this article we take a closer look at what the Pharmacy Quality Scheme entails, the criteria, funding and risk assessment.

What Does The Pharmacy Quality Scheme Entail?

The Pharmacy Quality Scheme 2020/21 consists of two parts – the first to be completed and declared by 29 January 2021. The second part of PQS in 2020/21 is being developed for the second half of the year. It will replace the original 2020/21 scheme that the PSNC had agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).

It was due to commence in April 2020 but had been put on hold due to the pandemic. Contractors must complete and declare all of the criteria in Part 1 to qualify for any payments concerning the completion of the first part. It is also a requirement to be eligible for the declaration of the second part of which details will be published in the September 2020 Drug Tariff.

Overview Of Pharmacy Quality Scheme Requirements

To meet the requirements of the new pharmacy quality scheme, contractors must complete all actions in the checklist. As it relates to the pandemic response many contractors will have covered most, if not all, of the actions during the last few months. We have summarised these actions below but you can download the full copy here.

  • Conduct a COVID-19 infection control risk assessment for the pharmacy premises and implement actions where necessary, i.e. physical barriers, protective screens etc.
  • Make reasonable adjustments to maximise social distancing following the latest government guidance on COVID-19 secure workplaces
  • Updated the pharmacy Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or related guidance where appropriate
  • Have appropriate, up to date COVID-19 posters, warnings and information visibly displayed at pharmacy entry points
  • Individual COVID-19 risk assessments have been offered to all members of staff along with risk factors for poorer outcomes of COVID-19 such as gender, age, BAME background and comorbidities
  • A process in place to advise and refer staff with COVID-19 symptoms for testing
  • Have facilities and resources (e.g. alcohol hand rub) to support staff to conduct frequent hand hygiene procedures
  • Display posters in relevant areas to promote best hand hygiene practice and use of hand rub
  • Reviewed and adopted, as a minimum, the PPE recommendations for pharmacy staff
  • Reviewed and, as appropriate, updated business continuity plans for the COVID-19 pandemic including Emergency Business Continuity Planning for any potential closure(s)
  • Identify an area of the pharmacy where symptomatic patients could be isolated if they are unable to leave the premises
  • Reviewed examples of good practice during the pandemic and has adopted them as considered appropriate for the individual pharmacy
  • Contractor and registered staff working at the pharmacy have read relevant COVID-19 guidance on the GPhC website

What Evidence Should Pharmacies Keep?

The PSNC Briefing provides community pharmacy contractors with examples of suggested evidence in the form of a checklist. Contractors must have  all this evidence to confirm that they have met all the requirements in the Essential Criteria Checklist for COVID-19 response.

Contractors  must be able to provide the evidence to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) Provider Assurance Team (if requested). This team may also undertake validation checks  on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I)  to confirm that contractors have the necessary evidence. Below is a summary of the evidence checklist with a link at the end to download the full document.

pharmacy quality scheme


Pharmacy Quality Scheme Evidence Checklist Summary

  • Copy of completed risk assessment, the risks identified and mitigating actions taken
  • Pictures of any physical changes or barriers put in place
  • Copy of action plan created following a review of the Government guidance
  • Pictures of any physical changes made in response to the action plan
  • Summary or list of SOPs amended, or guidance issued to supplement SOPs
  • Training record for team confirming briefing or training
  • Pictures of current PHE or other appropriate posters on display to provide information to the public
  • Screenshot of the appropriate and up to date COVID-19 warning and information as displayed on your website
  • Copy of individual risk assessments or staff waivers
  • Evidence of appropriate actions taken to mitigate risk to individuals
  • Pictures of alcohol hand rub provided for use by staff, in position within the pharmacy
  • Pictures of current PHE or other appropriate posters on display to provide information to staff and visitors
  • Copies of the updated Business Continuity plan reflecting plans for COVID-19 interruptions

Download: ‘Full PSNC Briefing 024/20: Essential Criteria Checklist For Covid-19

Scheme Funding

Available funding for the PQS is £18.75m and all contractors meeting the requirements can claim payment of £1,630 via the NHSBSA’s Manage Your Service (MYS) portal. Claims via MYS can be made between 14th July 2020 and 23:59 on 29th January 2021.

Completion of and claiming for the Part 1 scheme will be a Gateway requirement for the Part 2 scheme. They will pay out any unspent funds to contractors as part of payments for Part 2 of the 2020/21 PQS. Pharmacies that don’t meet individual criteria in the checklist will not be eligible to receive payment.

Pharmacy Staffing And Risk Assessment 

There are various risk assessment tools at the disposal of pharmacy contractors. Use these to inform staff of risk factors for poorer outcomes of COVID-19, individual risk assessments and to help put in place appropriate mitigations. You can find staff risk assessment templates and guidance below:


Contractors have until 29 January 2021 to offer and complete individual risk assessments with their staff. This will enable them to declare in relation to Part 1 2020/21 PQS and qualify for Part 2. In terms of Covid-19 tests, frontline workers, including community pharmacy staff in England, can access free testing through the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) national testing service.

As always, VirtualOutcomes is here to support you and your pharmacy team with online training modules covering various topics. These include courses on diabetes, sepsis, strokes, asthma attacks and our coveted Health Champion Training. Visit our website for more information and follow our blog for all the latest updates.

Have you seen our e-book on Leadership Training as part of Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP)? It provides you with the perfect introduction to the course which is now available online.

Leadership Training eBook