COVID-19 Update: 9th March


COVID-19 Update: 9th March

March 9, 2020

Please find below a round-up of the latest COVID-19 news for community pharmacies. PSNC will be issuing further updates for contractors as soon as we have more information. Please ensure that you are signed up to our emails to receive the latest information on COVID-19 and other NHS matters.

Latest updates

In the most recent developments on COVID-19 planning for community pharmacy:

  • The National Clinical Audit has been cancelled to allow pharmacies to concentrate on the response to COVID-19.
  • The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer has written to community pharmacies.
  • The letter includes agreement that packs containing personal protective equipment (PPE) will be sent to pharmacies shortly – this follows requests for this from PSNC.
  • PSNC is holding urgent discussions with NHSE&I and DHSC this week on support for pharmacies through any potential later stages of the COVID-19, and we will this week launch and host the Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Forum.
  • Pharmacies have been asked to check their business continuity plans; consider updating any online booking systems; clearly display COVID-19 posters to the public; and read and stay up to date with NHSE&I recommendations on the situation.
  • PSNC’s Dispensing and Supply Team are continuing to monitor the supply of medicines and we are in close contact with partners in the supply chain and DHSC.

PSNC Discussions with the NHS and DHSC

This week PSNC will be undertaking more detailed discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) to plan for the potential later phases of the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be pressing for further support and protection for pharmacies who are already being impacted by the outbreak in the UK.

We will be looking to agree CPCF arrangements that cover circumstances such as:

  • Pharmacies having to temporarily close due to COVID-19;
  • The temporary re-deployment of pharmacy staff to other community pharmacies or healthcare settings;
  • Funding arrangements for any pharmacies which have to close temporarily;
  • Cash flow solutions should contractors have to deal with rapidly rising medicines prices;
  • Possible community pharmacy support for patients who have to self-isolate due to possible infection or pre-existing conditions which put them at particular risk from infection (this could include delivery of medicines to patients).

We will provide further updates on these matters as soon as we can.

Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Forum

A first meeting of the PSNC organised COVID-19 Forum will also take place later in the week, providing an opportunity for information sharing with other pharmacy and supply chain bodies, DHSC and NHSE&I. The group will consider communications to contractors as part of its remit.

The latest information from Government

A brief update on plans issued by DHSC last week

NHSE&I guidance for community pharmacies

Read the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s letter to community pharmacy contractors

Download the COVID-19 posters for pharmacies via our COVID-19 page

Supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Gloves, aprons and face masks should be ordered via normal wholesalers in small quantities. These supplies should be used only by pharmacy staff, and not sold to the public. Following discussion with PSNC, DHSC and NHSE&I have been working with Public Health England (PHE) to ensure that wholesalers’ stocks are replenished from the national PHE supplies. Free of charge packs of PPEs will also be sent to pharmacies later this week or early next week.

The guidance on use of PPE is still that it only needs to be used if you are entering a room in an emergency, where an infected/possibly infected patient is isolated and when decontaminating a room where such a patient has been present (in this case the PPE is to protect the worker from the cleaning products being used). As a consequence of this, the need for community pharmacies to have to use PPE, at this time, is low. Wherever possible, a patient presenting in the pharmacy with possible COVID-19 infection should be immediately told to return home and then access NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 (calling being a secondary option to online access) in order that the pharmacy does not have the increased risk of dealing with an isolated patient in the consultation room and the subsequent need for decontamination.

Supply of Medicines

Some LPCs have flagged local moves by general practices to extend the period of treatment. Following discussions with PSNC about this, NHSE&I and DHSC have issued guidance to practices that this should not happen. The below guidance is contained in Dr Nikki Kanani’s letter to general practices:

Prescriptions: Practices should not change their repeat prescription durations or support patients trying to stockpile: these actions may put a strain on the supply chain and exacerbate any potential shortages. Practices should consider putting all suitable patients on electronic repeat dispensing as soon as possible. The whole repeatable prescription can be valid for a year but each repeat should be for no longer than the patient has now. For example, if the patient has prescriptions for a month’s supply now then the repeat dispensing should be set up as 13 x 28 days’ supply.

If contractors see that this guidance is not being followed, please immediately raise this with your LPC for further escalation. Pharmacies have also been asked not to support any patients trying to stockpile.


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