COVID-19 Negotiations Update: Delivery Service, PPE and Opening Hours

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COVID-19 Negotiations Update: Delivery Service, PPE and Opening Hours

April 1, 2020

PSNC has today (1 April) issued an update on some of its most significant ongoing COVID-19 related negotiations with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Urgent discussions on the Pandemic Delivery Service, Easter opening hours and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are ongoing and we will publish information as soon as it is available.

Please ensure that you are signed up to PSNC’s email newsletters to ensure that you receive the latest information from us: psnc.org.uk/email

Pandemic Delivery Service

A medicines delivery service for very vulnerable ‘shielded’ patients, who have been asked to stay at home for a period of 12 weeks to try to avoid contracting coronavirus, was announced by HM Government in late March. The announcement was made at an early stage of our negotiations on such a service with NHSE&I and DHSC.

Discussions on such a service are complex, and ongoing. The Government’s desire to involve the national volunteer network (NHS Volunteer Responders), and the need therefore to involve other partners in the discussions, is one factor increasing the time needing to be spent on these discussions.

PSNC is concerned that patient and medicines safety are protected, and that undue workload or liabilities do not fall to contractors.

We will give a further update as soon as we have news, but in the meantime contractors are reminded that as things currently stand there is no NHS-funded medicines delivery service (for any group of patients, other than for specified appliances) and so contractors offering deliveries at the moment are doing so at their own expense and risk.

Easter opening hours

PSNC is keen, like all parts of the NHS, to ensure that patients have access to any pharmaceutical services that they need over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

Traditionally the weeks before Easter are busy for community pharmacies, but we expect that the increase in prescription volumes seen over the past few weeks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may mean that the seasonal demand has been largely met already.

We are in urgent discussions with NHSE&I about what might be an appropriate level of service cover over the Easter Bank Holidays. We are keen to ensure that neither too few nor too many pharmacies are open, and we are seeking agreement from NHSE&I that the existing arrangements will be sufficient. Normally about a quarter to a third of the network is open on Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday.

However, GP practices have been asked to open on Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday and NHSE&I, with the agreement of the Secretary of State, has the option of using new NHS regulations introduced at the end of last week, to ask (require) community pharmacies to open on Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday, for a set number of hours, if it considers this to be appropriate.

We will update contractors on the outcome of our discussions as soon as we can.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Recognising that community pharmacy teams are working on the frontline of the health service, PSNC wants them to have access to whatever PPE they believe they need.

As well as helping to protect customers and patients, PPE use could help pharmacy teams to work more safely together in dispensaries that are not large enough to allow staff to stay 2m apart from one another.

PSNC is still pressing NHSE&I to ensure that pharmacy teams have access to whatever PPE they need. We note that Public Health England are currently reviewing their guidance on the use of PPE and we hope this will take a sensible approach, recognising the daily risks that many pharmacy teams are taking.



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