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

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

April 12, 2021

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

1. Senior NHS figures stress Muslims can get COVID jab in Ramadan

Two leading Muslim figures working in the NHS have today joined other medical leaders and Islamic scholars in stressing that Ramadan should not stop anyone from getting the NHS COVID vaccination.

Imam Yunus Dudhwala, Head of Chaplaincy at Barts Health NHS Trust, and Dr Farzana Hussain, a senior GP, stressed that getting the jab does not break the fast observed by Muslims during daylight hours over Ramadan.

Please read and share the following NHS website news article to ensure take-up of vaccinations is not compromised during the month of Ramadan:

2. NHSE&I Primary Care Bulletin updates – COVID-19: 8th April round-up for primary care

Following yesterday’s update from the Medicines and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance in relation to the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we have published the next steps and actions for all vaccination sites. MHRA and JCVI have made clear the balance of risk is still very much in favour of vaccination. It is therefore critical that we implement their direction in a similarly balanced and operationally robust manner so that we continue to deliver our life-saving programme. Thank you for your continued efforts and, as ever, we are hugely grateful for everything that you are doing to make the NHS-delivery of this programme the success that it is.

Government extends free COVID-19 PPE scheme until the end of March 2022
The Government is extending the provision of free COVID-19 PPE to health and social care providers until the end of March 2022. Following the previous announcement of free PPE provision until the end of June 2021, the scheme will now be extended to the end of March 2022 as the expectation of clinical experts is that usage will remain high throughout the next financial year.

This will ensure that General Practice, dentists, community pharmacy and opticians can continue to access rigorously tested and high-quality PPE. Providers should continue to access COVID-19 PPE via their current distribution channels.

Usage of lateral flow devices for asymptomatic staff testing
On 30 March, the revised Standard operating procedure: Usage of lateral flow devices for asymptomatic staff testing at vaccination sites document was published.

Achievements and developments during 2020/21 flu season
On 1 April 2021, a letter from Professor Stephen Powis was sent out to primary and secondary care colleagues, including all GP practices and all community pharmacies commending the achievements and developments made with regards to the NHS Annual Influenza Vaccination Programme during 2020/2021, referred to as ‘the most successful in the history of the programme’, especially considering the roll out took place during a pandemic.

Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Service – Register to provide the service
In order to improve access to testing for asymptomatic people, identify positive cases in the community and break the chain of transmission, the Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Service has been commissioned until 30 June 2021 (inclusive).

NHS Test and Trace is making lateral flow devices (LFD) available through this service for collection from a community pharmacy. Tests will be administered away from the pharmacy. Patients who have symptoms of COVID will not be asked to attend a pharmacy.

The service will work alongside existing NHS Test and Trace COVID-19 testing routes. Community pharmacy contractors can review the service specification here with details of how to register to provide this service. Resources are now available to download to promote the service in your sites.

Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments requirement deferred until October 2022
Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments are due to be renewed and published by Local Authority Health and Wellbeing Boards in April 2022. Due to ongoing pressures across all sectors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement to publish renewed Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments will be suspended until October 2022. Local Authority Health and Well Being Boards will retain the ability to issue supplementary statements to respond to local changes and pharmaceutical needs during this time.

Updated Pharmaceutical Needs Assessments guidance will be published this summer. The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 will be updated to reflect this change in due course.

Quickly signpost patients with NHS Service Finder
Improvements have been made to NHS Service Finder, which gives health and care staff access to accurate information when signposting patients to other local services. The latest release makes searching for services faster and simpler, search results are now easier to navigate, and there are also more options for filtering by service type and opening times.

Creating an account is quick and easy, and open to anyone working in health or social care. Register with your NHSmail email address for immediate access from your computer, smartphone or tablet. For more information, visit the NHS Digital website or email

Reminder for self-isolating patients and household contacts not to go to pharmacies
Primary care prescribing colleagues are asked to remind patients advised to self-isolate by Track and Trace, or a household contact of a COVID-19 positive patient, that they should not go to a pharmacy, but arrange for prescriptions to be delivered to them instead.

Patients should:

  • ask family, friends or a carer, provided they too have not been advised to self-isolate;
  • contact the NHS Volunteer Responders Programme which can support all shielding, self-isolating and/or otherwise vulnerable patients by calling 0808 196 3646; or
  • ask their pharmacy or dispensing doctor to arrange delivery where neither of the above are possible.

Home Delivery Services during the COVID-19 outbreak are commissioned throughout England from community pharmacies (and from dispensing doctors) to ensure delivery of medicines to eligible patients who should not present in the pharmacy. Current details of eligible patients are available online.


Posted in:

More Latest News >

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Public Health England resources available for you to support this. Public Health England (PHE) are very aware that mental wellbeing may...

‘A career in pharmacy’

Health Education England (HEE) resources available, including a video and infographic. If you’re keen to help others, enjoy science and...