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

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

November 23, 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 NHSE&I Primary Care Bulletin COVID-19 updates below:

1. 10th November round-up for primary care

COVID vaccination programme
Rapid progress is being made on the development of a Covid vaccine and primary care will play a critical role in the national roll out. NHS England and NHS Improvement has agreed with the BMA General Practitioners Committee that a vaccination service will be nationally commissioned as an enhanced service (ES).

Our plans for deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine builds on the tried-and-tested rollout plans for influenza vaccine, which we deploy every autumn. Given the uncertainty over whether, and when, a vaccine may be approved, we are planning to be ready from any date from December.

Where a practice agrees to participate in this enhanced service, it will need to work collaboratively with other practices to deliver vaccinations in PCN groupings, and we anticipate at least one site being designated initially per PCN grouping. Those sites will need to collaborate with other community vaccination providers, as part of a co-ordinated local approach.

We are asking PCN groupings who wish to participate to submit (using the specified form) to the CCG no later than Tuesday 17 November 2020.

Further details on the designation process and the key features of the specification are on our website. We know you will have lots of questions and we will do all we can to support you to deliver one of the most important vaccine programmes the NHS has ever delivered.

We will be holding a webinar on 12 November at 7pm to talk you through the initial planning.

We also see community pharmacy playing an important role in the vaccine programme and we will have further information on this in the coming days.

Thank you in advance for your commitment and support.

Mink-variant SARS-CoV-2 virus in Denmark
Denmark was removed from the UK travel corridors list on Friday 6 November and any travellers from Denmark returning to the UK will now be required to self-isolate for 14 days according to the national guidance and legislation. A new CAS alert was issued to highlight some immediate actions for the NHS, including all primary care providers.

The National Health Service (Charges and Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 – changes to the terms of service for pharmacy contractors
A number of changes to the terms of service for pharmacy contractors came into effect on 9 November 2020. These include requirements regarding accessing the Summary Care Record, updating NHS website and Directory of Services profiles, accessing NHSmail and facilitating remote access to services. Contractors must register their premises specific NHSmail account with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to receive Central Alerting System (CAS) notifications. We have managed a bulk upload of premises specific NHSmail accounts to the MHRA CAS system and will be following up outstanding pharmacies who will have a requirement to register manually. We will be producing further guidance on these changes.

Importance of flu vaccinations for people with a learning disability
Community pharmacy teams are being asked to ensure people with a learning disability (and autistic people in an at-risk group) receive their flu vaccinations as a priority cohort alongside people over 65 and pregnant women. Particular attention is being paid this year to making sure that everyone with a learning disability who requests their free flu vaccination within a community pharmacy setting receives one. New easy read resources have been produced to help with communications.

COVID-19 vaccination in community pharmacy
Sir Simon Stevens has announced that community pharmacy will have a role working within primary care networks in delivering a COVID-19 vaccination programme when a vaccine becomes available. A COVID-19 vaccination is likely to be commissioned as a local enhanced service in the first instance. Further details will be published in the near future.

Self Care Week 16 – 22 November
Self Care Week is an opportunity to promote self care messages and help people to ‘live self care for life’. We are encouraging community pharmacies across the country to support their communities to take care of their health and wellbeing through self care.

The Self Care Forum has provided resources for download which include posters, fact sheets, leaflets and a ‘last minute activity guide for pharmacists’.

2. COVID-19: 13th November round-up for primary care

Yesterday marked the beginning of Diwali, a five-day festival of lights. It symbolises “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance” which is an incredibly powerful and important message. We’d like to wish the millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world who celebrate this festival a happy Diwali filled with love, hope and happiness.

COVID-19 update and guidance
The Chief Medical Officers, the General Medical Council and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and ourselves, have written to doctors including general practice providing a COVID-19 wave two update and collective support to the profession. Similarly, the Chief Dental Officers have written to the dental profession with a similar message and a letter from the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer will be sent to community pharmacy colleagues.

COVID-19 Vaccination Programme 2020/21
Due to an error, the site designation form has been updated and is now available on our website. PCN groupings will need to submit this form to the CCG no later than Tuesday 17 November with the details of the site (or sites) initially being nominated for designation and the names and contact details of all of the practices collaborating within the PCN (and with other local non-PCN member practices or PCNs as Classification: Official Publication approval reference: 001559 appropriate) who have agreed that the nominated site will be used to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to their patient population under the Enhanced Service.

Reminder of dates:

  • PCN groupings to advise CCGs of nominated site for designation Tuesday 17 November
  • CCGs complete designation assessment process for nominated sites and submit recommendations to NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams Thursday 19 November
  • NHS England and NHS Improvement decision communicated to PCN groupings along with formal commissioner offer to practices with access to an approved designated site to sign up to deliver the Enhanced Service Monday 23 November

All the documents associated with the above can be found on our website.

The CQC have also published some advice on registration requirements for those delivering the flu and COVID-19 vaccination programmes.

We will be hosting a webinar for primary care networks, general practice, CCGs and community pharmacy on Wednesday 18 November at 1pm to talk in more detail about the COVID-19 vaccination programme. If you have previously signed up to our general practice webinars, there is no need to sign up again but for those who have not joined us before, please register for this event.

Further information on the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
This workspace provides a community for colleagues across the country who are working to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination in primary care. We will be regularly updating the space with resources, webinars, links to key policy document and for you to ask questions, learn and share from others using the discussion forum. If you are not already a member, please register to join the platform using an NHS or similar professional email address by emailing:

World Antibiotic Awareness Week: 18 – 24 November 2020
World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance by improving awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.

Community pharmacies can make a big difference to antimicrobial stewardship. Public Health England has produced a campaign pack for community pharmacies as part of the ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign. Further resources can be accessed on the World Health Organisation website.

COVID-19 messaging resources available for community pharmacies
Community pharmacies are being encouraged to use the NHS patient-facing communications assets which have been produced to support pharmacy teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources include images for use on in-pharmacy digital screens, websites and social media channels, and some key messages. These include: ‘safe distancing’, ‘please treat staff with respect’ and ‘order your usual quantities’ messages.

Flu vaccination messaging resources available
To help answer questions you may be getting on flu vaccine availability, Public Health England has created a new two page leaflet. It explains there is enough vaccine available for all eligible groups and why, if a person is eligible, they may be asked to wait for their vaccine. Assets to support the flu vaccination campaign are still available to download on the Campaign Resource Centre.

Video consultations – translated resources now available
Translated versions of ‘Video consulting with your NHS’, a quick guide to video consultations for patients, have been added to our website. This is a visual resource intended to support patients use video technology for their appointments, the guide is relevant to any technology and any clinical setting and is now also available to download in Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Italian, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian and Urdu.

Dates for diary: Wednesday 18 November, 1pm – 2.30pm.
COVID-19 vaccination programme


3. COVID-19: 17th November round-up for primary care

We would like to remind you about our Primary Care COVID-19 vaccination programme webinar that is taking place tomorrow from 1pm – 2:30pm. This webinar provides an opportunity for primary care networks, general practice, CCGs and community pharmacy to hear from NHS England and NHS Improvement as well as guest speakers about the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Register your place before 12pm on Wednesday. If you’ve registered previously for a general practice webinar you don’t have to sign up again.

PPE Portal – some common user questions
If you have questions about when you can place your next order or why items are showing out of stock or any other queries, please see the PPE portal FAQs. They can be found by logging into and scrolling to the bottom and selecting help/FAQ. If you have any concerns that aren’t answered in these, please do get in touch with the customer service team on 0800 876 6802. The team is available from 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week.

New initial education and training standards for pharmacists on the horizon
On 12 November, the Council of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) met and agreed the overall direction of the review of the standards for initial education and training of pharmacists. The GPhC is continuing to work closely with key stakeholders, including the Pharmacy Schools Council and the statutory national education bodies, to inform the final drafting. The Council will consider the final draft of the standards at its Council meeting on 10 December. There was clear support for the aim that pharmacists can independently prescribe from the point of registration, and that this should be implemented at the earliest possible opportunity.

4. COVID-19: 20th November round-up for primary care

Extension of flu vaccination programme to 50 to 64 year olds
Thank you for the incredible work you have done so far in vaccinating eligible cohorts on the flu vaccination programme. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has now announced the extension of the programme to 50 to 64 year olds. General practices and community pharmacies will be able to vaccinate all 50-64-year olds from 1 December, and should begin planning now, for example, ordering additional stock and organising appointment slots. Vaccination of priority groups should continue alongside this new cohort. Supply is available from the national stock to support this extension. However, it is not known what the exact patterns of uptake will be for this new cohort, so you are advised to only order as much as you need for the immediate term.

This is particularly relevant to general practice given the COVID-19 vaccination programme will begin shortly which will need to be balanced alongside the flu programme and may result in more patients accessing flu vaccinations at community pharmacies in the latter part of the season. It is important to make every effort to ensure as many people as possible in this cohort are vaccinated prior to delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

DHSC will also be updating its guidance to general practice and community pharmacy on accessing centrally supplied flu vaccines which includes an update on the availability of supplies.

Please note that it is also very important that routine childhood vaccinations are maintained to ensure these cohorts are not disadvantaged during delivery of the flu and Covid vaccination programmes.

PPE Portal registration reminder
Remember to register on the PPE Portal to obtain free PPE, available to all primary care providers (including community pharmacists, optometrists, dentists, orthodontists and GPs).

The PPE portal is the primary source of free COVID-19 PPE (including Flu vaccination requirements). However, if there is a severe disruption to distribution, in the first instance get in contact with your local authority or LRF. If this route is not possible, get in contact with the NSDR. More information about the PPE portal can be found in this previous bulletin issue.

How to order additional flu vaccine stock
To support the expanded vaccination programme, the Department of Health and Social Care has secured an additional supply of influenza vaccines. These will arrive later in the flu season to top up local supplies once they run low. This guidance explains how community pharmacies will be able to access this additional stock.

National conferences for PCN pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
The Primary Care Pharmacy Association national half-day PCN conferences for pharmacy professionals are taking place in December 2020: 3 December – South conference and 9 December – North conference. These are open to non-PCPA members. You can check out the agendas and sign up for the events on their website.

Primary care staff survey – feasibility study
CCG and PCN leads are invited to take part in a short online survey to share their views about the feasibility of developing a new national survey aimed at understanding staff experience in primary care (including dental practice, general practice, optometry, and pharmacy). The survey is being run by Picker on behalf of NHS England and Improvement and takes just 5-10 minutes to complete. Please take part in the survey by 4 December 2020. More information on the feasibility study is available on the Picker website.

Building inclusive primary care networks in partnership with people and communities – webinar series
A new webinar series for colleagues working in primary care networks begins next month to help PCNs provide inclusive services for people and communities from the most marginalised groups, who experience the greatest health inequalities. The regular webinars provide a mixture of practical sessions for those new to engagement and sessions focused on sharing learning and good practice. They will explore existing practice, tools, tips resources and learning experiences. Find out more about the sessions and book your space.


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