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

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

November 9, 2020

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

1. ALERT: Requirement to sign prescriptions suspended

The requirement for patients or their representatives to sign the back of prescriptions or EPS tokens is temporarily suspended from 1st November 2020 to 31st March 2021.

2. NHSE&I Primary Care Bulletin updates – COVID-19: 3rd November round-up for primary care

With the announcement from the Prime Minster that England will enter a lockdown from Thursday until 2 December, the Government’s guidance states that “a number of public services will also stay open and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include […] the NHS and medical services like GPs”.

We want to confirm that during the period of tighter restrictions all primary care services (GP practices, dental practices, pharmacies and optometry providers) will remain open to treat patients in line with their standard operating procedures, offering care which is safe, necessary and clinically prioritised.

Thank you for your continued dedication in caring for and supporting your communities in these challenging times. Look after yourselves and stay safe.

Action needed to support people considered clinically extremely vulnerable
The Government will be issuing new guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and will be writing to people on the Shielded Patient List (SPL) explaining the new advice.

Our letters to GPs and NHS Trusts explain the steps needed to ensure the SPL is as accurate as possible so patients receive the most appropriate advice and support. General practices are asked to support the addition of adults with Down’s syndrome, and to ensure that any remaining children on the SPL who were added by the practice are reviewed rapidly and removed from the list if appropriate. Patients may start to contact practices proactively as they become aware of these changes. We have worked with patient groups to develop materials and support for these additional cohorts and these will be made available to primary care colleagues.

Information to help you with maintaining the SPL is on the NHS Digital website.

COVID-19 swab testing available to general practice
NHS Test and Trace is making COVID-19 swab testing available to general practices in England. The service will be available to all practices on a voluntary, opt in basis and swabs are intended to be self-administered. This will be a supplementary option for practices and does not replace any of the existing routes to access testing. Members of the public will continue to be directed to regional testing centres or home testing kits in the first instance.

These tests can be offered to patients who present with COVID-19 symptoms in general practice settings, to streamline patient care and increase access to testing for patients who would otherwise be unlikely to get a test via the primary testing routes. For example, due to barriers around language, disability or digital inclusion. Practices can use their discretion to offer the swabs where they deem it to be clinically appropriate.

Following requests from GPs to have increased access to testing, these tests will also be available for symptomatic GPs, practice staff and their symptomatic household members to support general practice settings remaining operational. Test results for anyone using these swabs will be sent to patients and flow into GP records, in the same manner as other pillar 2 test results.

All practices will shortly receive further information via email and an invitation to attend webinars to learn more about the service and how to opt in.

DHSC guidance for community pharmacies on accessing DHSC centrally supplied flu vaccines
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued guidance for community pharmacies on accessing DHSC centrally supplied flu vaccines. The guidance is for community pharmacies in England providing seasonal flu vaccination as part of NHS Pharmaceutical Services. Guidance for GPs and other NHS Providers has been released separately. Please note that the stock will be available from later this month, and DHSC will advise on when and where stock is available.

Flu vaccinations for carers and people with a learning disability
Two short films have been produced on flu vaccinations. The first is for carers of people with a learning disability about the importance of vaccinating themselves and the people they care for. The second is about vaccinating people with a learning disability and autistic people with certain health conditions. Both cover why it is important, who is eligible for a free vaccine, where you can get the vaccine and reasonable adjustments.

Thursday 12 November, 6pm – 7pm
Community pharmacy webinar with Keith Ridge and Ed Waller. To attend please ensure you register by 12pm on 12 November.


3. NHSE&I Primary Care Bulletin updates – COVID-19: 6th November round-up for primary care

Prescribing and dispensing medications during restrictions
Some patients may be anxious about access to their medications and appliances during the lockdown, however we kindly ask all prescribers and those dispensing medicines and appliances to be mindful of the need not to over-prescribe (through extending the normal length of prescriptions to patients) or pull forward scripts, as this can create issues with supplies further down the line. Please reinforce this message with patients if necessary and reassure them that they will still be able to access their medicines and appliances during the lockdown.

Suspension of the need for signatures on prescriptions, dental and ophthalmic forms
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has approved a temporary measure in England to help limit the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) by suspending the need for patients to sign prescription, dental and ophthalmic forms for a period of 5 months to 31 March 2021. This is to avoid cross contamination and help minimise the handling of paperwork when collecting medicines or receiving dental and eye care. Patients will still be required to either pay the relevant charge or prove their eligibility for an exemption from charges. Further details and processes to follow is set out on the DHSC website.

Home delivery of medicines service commissioned
During the national restrictions people who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised by the Government not to go to a community pharmacy. Therefore a letter has been sent to community pharmacy providers to confirm that the Community Pharmacy Home Delivery Service and the Dispensing Doctor Home Delivery Service will be commissioned in accordance with the Home delivery of medicines and appliances during the COVID-19 outbreak: service specifications and guidance for all patients on the Shielded Patient List in England from 5 November 2020 until 3 December 2020. This means that all pharmacies and dispensing doctors in England will again be required to ensure patients on the Shielded Patient List receive their medicines at home.

4. PSNC COVID-19 daily updates – all the latest contractual, operational and practical information

PSNC is working with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement to provide as much support and guidance as possible to help community pharmacy teams contribute to some of the many challenges that could arise in an epidemic situation.

PSNC logo.png

PSNC are now publishing daily COVID-19 updates by email to all those that have authorised this news stream feed.

Please find below links for last week’s updates which cover the following topics:

  • COVID vaccination service
  • COVID-19: Expected national restrictions from 5th November
  • Accessing DHSC flu vac stock guidance published
  • Difficulties accessing MYS using certain web browsers
  • Government CPCF Impact Assessment: PSNC highlighting issues to Minister
  • Latest FAQs
  • New NHS Pharmacy Regulations: Explainer articles
  • NHSE&I Community Pharmacy webinar
  • October Community Pharmacy News (CPN)
  • Pandemic Delivery Service restarts across England
  • Pharmacy minister writes open letter to pharmacy teams
  • PSNC CEO Blog
  • PSNC discussing pharmacy involvement in COVD vaccinations

PSNC COVID-19 daily updates:


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