Hep C Testing Advanced service to commence next month

Hep C Testing Advanced service to commence next month

August 27, 2020

The Community Pharmacy Hepatitis C Antibody Testing Service, which had its introduction into the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, will officially launch on 1st September 2020.

The new Advanced service is focused on provision of point of care testing for Hepatitis C (Hep C) antibodies to people who inject drugs (PWIDs), i.e. individuals who inject illicit drugs, e.g. steroids or heroin, but who haven’t yet moved to the point of accepting treatment for their substance use. Where people test positive for Hep C antibodies, they will be referred for a confirmatory test and treatment, where appropriate.

The service is part of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s national programme to eliminate Hep C virus as a major public health threat by 2025. The service aims to use community pharmacies to target PWIDs for testing, as they are the healthcare venue most likely to be visited by that group of people.

Any pharmacy that meets the service requirements will be able to provide the service, but it will be of most interest to contractors that provide a locally commissioned needle and syringe programme service, with a sufficient number of clients, to make the investment in provision of the service worthwhile.

Pharmacy contractors considering providing the service should first read the service specification and then consider the likely costs of providing the service and the number of PWIDs they are likely to be able to test.

Commenting on the launch of the service, Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at PSNC said:

“The commissioning of this new Advanced service provides an excellent opportunity for the sector to participate in an incredibly important national and global public health initiative to eliminate Hep C virus and the harm it causes to so many people in our society.

“In the UK, those at highest risk of contracting HCV are people who inject drugs and community pharmacy is the healthcare provider with the best access to that group of people. The commissioning of this service underlines the importance of the access to healthcare that is provided through the community pharmacy network.

“Pharmacy contractors who provide a needle and syringe programme to a significant number of clients will be best placed to provide this service and to ensure its provision will also work from an economic perspective.”

Download the Hep C Antibody Testing Advanced service specification

PSNC is finalising guidance for contractors on the service, which will be published shortly on our Hepatitis C Testing service webpage.

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