COVID-19: This week’s updates for community pharmacies (1)

COVID-19: This week’s updates for community pharmacies (1)

August 10, 2020

Latest news, information and guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) for primary care teams.

Please read the following important updates by reading the individual numbered articles below:

1. PPE Portal available for community pharmacies to order from in emergencies

w/c Monday 3rdAugust

All community pharmacies in England will be invited to register and order with the PPE Portal.

These email invitations will be sent to the email registered to the practice and held by NHSE.

If anyone encounters any difficulties in registering, haven’t received the email invitation by the end of this week, or have any other queries, we ask that they contact the NHS Customer Service team on 0800 876 6802.

Initially pharmacies are on low limits whilst they onboard new sectors to the portal. The portal can accessed on the following Government website page:

The limits are likely to increase towards the end of August/beginning of September.

2. NHSE&I Primary Care Bulletin updates COVID-19: 6th August round-up for primary care

Annual Flu letter
The second annual flu letter was published on 5 August 2020 giving more details about this year’s expanded Flu Programme. This year, as part of our wider planning for winter, we intend to vaccinate more people than ever before in the existing eligible cohorts, and we are also offering the vaccine to:

  • household contacts of those on the NHS Shielded Patient List.  (Specifically, individuals who expect to share living accommodation with a shielded person on most days over the winter and therefore for whom continuing close contact is unavoidable).
  • children of school Year 7 age in secondary schools (those aged 11 on 31 August 2020).
  • health and social care workers employed through Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants, to deliver domiciliary care to patients and service users.

We aim to further extend the vaccine programme in November and December to include the 50-64 year old age group subject to vaccine supply. This extension is being phased to allow you to prioritise those in at risk groups first.

In light of the risk of flu and COVID-19 co-circulating this winter, the Flu Programme will be absolutely essential to protecting vulnerable people and supporting the resilience of the NHS. We thank you for your support in delivering it.

Roll out of Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) Phase 4
To help you prepare for winter, we are accelerating deployment of EPS Phase 4 which allows EPS to be used for patients without a pharmacy nomination. All GP practices using EPS with TPP SystmOne and EMIS Web will be live with Phase 4 by mid-September.

As more GP practices go live with Phase 4 over the coming weeks, pharmacies and other dispensers will see the majority of hand-signed FP10s replaced by Phase 4 tokens.

See full article in the EPS GP section below.

PPE orders for community pharmacies
From Wednesday 5 August 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will be emailing community pharmacies, inviting them to register with the PPE portal. The portal has been developed by DHSC in partnership with eBay UK, NHS Supply Chain, the Army, Clipper and Royal Mail.

Emails will come from PPE Dedicated Supply Channel (please note this email address does not accept incoming emails): Please ensure that you are regularly checking your NHS email accounts in order to ensure that the invitation is received and actioned.

Pharmacies are encouraged to register promptly, to ensure they can order emergency personal protective equipment (PPE) from a central inventory. This is to supplement (not replace) the wholesale supply route that already operates. New users will initially have small order limits, but these are under review.

Orders through the portal should arrive within 48 hours if placed before 1pm. Orders placed after 1pm will be subject to an additional 24-hours.  Information on what items are available for your sector and size will be made available from Monday 3 August on the DHSC Guidance webpage.

If providers have any queries or have not received an email invite by close of play Monday 10 August, please contact the PPE portal customer services at: 0800 876 6802.

Further detailed information is also available on the NHS Business Services Authority website.


EPS (GP section)
All GP practices using EPS with TPP SystmOne and EMIS Web will be live with Phase 4 by mid-September.

Phase 4 significantly reduces the need to hand sign prescriptions and deal with lost prescriptions. GP practices and pharmacies will also be able to track the status of more prescriptions using the EPS Prescription Tracker.

Using EPS with a nomination is still the preferred and most efficient option, especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so please continue to encourage your patients to nominate.

  • GP practices: Phase 4 functionality will be enabled automatically for all TPP SystmOne and EMIS Web practices that use EPS (including dispensing practices) from 7 September 2020. EPS Phase 4 is not currently available in the Vision or Microtest systems. To ensure a smooth transition, it is recommended that practices enable Phase 4 before this date. This will give teams more time to access support from their clinical commissioning group (CCG) EPS lead if necessary. Practices can contact their CCG to arrange a go-live date. For most practices the move requires minimal action, but teams should consult the support materials and readiness checklist.
  • Pharmacies: As more practices go live with Phase 4 over the coming weeks, pharmacies and other dispensers will see the majority of hand-signed FP10s replaced by Phase 4 tokens.


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