December meeting of the Community Pharmacy Brexit Forum

December meeting of the Community Pharmacy Brexit Forum

December 14, 2020

Today PSNC hosted the Community Pharmacy Brexit Forum hearing updates from a number of organisations, including NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The meeting followed the helpful update last week on EU exit – medicines supply continuity – to all GPs and community pharmacists from Keith Ridge, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England.

NHSE&I gave key updates on primary and community care including messages to:

  • Prescribe and dispense as normal: Doctors and pharmacists are encouraged to reassure patients that they do not need to order extra medication as this could contribute to or cause supply problems. Prescriptions covering longer durations than normally prescribed should be avoided. Prescription durations will be monitored and investigated where necessary.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the latest information on supply disruption: Ensure CAS alerts and other communications are quickly and effectively shared with all team members who need this information.
  • Encourage patients to take out travel insurance before travelling to the EU: After the UK leaves the EU, European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) cards may not be valid.
  • Encourage staff who are EU citizens to register with the EU Settlement Scheme.

There was also an update on the work of the Medicines Shortages Response Group (MSRG) which supports the DHSC’s work responding to medicines shortages. The MSRG is an NHS advisory body chaired by Bruce Warner, the Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, which consists of a multi-disciplinary group, including clinicians, and members from across DHSC, NHSE&I, the Devolved Administrations and the wider NHS; and advises DHSC, for example, on whether the development of a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) would be beneficial to help mitigate a shortage. More information is available here.

DHSC provided a comprehensive update on the multi-layered approach to maintaining continuity of supply of medicines, reminded that Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) requirements cease to have effect in GB from 1st January 2021 (see Update on FMD for contractors) and identified the assurances last week around medicines supplies into Northern Ireland after the end of the Transition Period (see The Northern Ireland Protocol). These assurances include certain temporary dispensations for up to 12 months; and guidance that protects the flow of medicines already on the market in Great Britain moving to Northern Ireland. The overall message is that there should be no disruption to the flow of medicines from 1st January 2021.

Additional information on the practical aspects of supply to community pharmacies in Northern Ireland was provided by Martin Sawyer of the Healthcare Distribution Association who gave assurances around the wholesale supply of medicines to NI from GB, although added that some issues remain to be resolved. Additional information on DHSC’s contingency work around appliances was also provided.

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