Pandemic Delivery Service: Are you clear on how to deliver it?

Pandemic Delivery Service: Are you clear on how to deliver it?

May 6, 2020

The Pandemic Delivery Service went live on 9th April 2020 and early feedback from several contractors shows there is still confusion over patients’ eligibility and the process to confirm patient inclusion in the service. In addition, the use of volunteers is still very variable, but the NHS remains committed to ensuring their use during the pandemic.

The pandemic has resulted in a surge in demand for pharmacies to deliver medication to assist patients to remain at home in line with the Government guidance. Pharmacy teams are trying to manage these demands, but it is increasingly necessary to prioritise resources. Early guidance to the general public on who was more vulnerable to COVID-19 has not helped contractors clearly navigate who the service was there to support.

If you are reading this and you have not had an opportunity to thoroughly read the service specification, then please do. There is an easy to follow overview of the service and an on demand digital guide in the form of a webinar to help as well (both are in section 15 of our pandemic delivery service webpage). The key things to remember are:

  • There are two aspects to the service:
    • The Essential service: Terms of Service change for all pharmacy contractors, bar distance selling pharmacies (DSP), requires them to help shielded patients to receive their prescriptions. Pharmacies are remunerated monthly for providing this advice and support to shielded patients.
    • The second aspect of the service is the Advanced Service and that is optional for all, however, DSPs are also excluded from providing the service.
  • The service is only to support patients who have been asked by the NHS, their GP or their hospital consultant to stay at home for 12 weeks and this self-isolation is described as shielding. While most people identified for shielding will, by now, have received a letter or text to confirm this, this list of patients is subject to change on a weekly basis. The service does not cover deliveries to people who live in the same household as a shielded patient.
  • NHS Digital and NHS England & NHS Improvement have worked to add a COVID-19 flag to the NHS Summary Care Record (SCR) of these patients to confirm their eligible. The flag is found in the demographic section of SCR. Consent to view this part of SCR is not needed, nor does viewing this aspect of SCR result in an alert to the contractor’s Privacy Officer.
  • The key is to identify these patients! The best time to do this is when they call to request delivery, or before any scheduled deliveries are organised. Good practice is to use SCR to assist with this, although verbal confirmation from the patient, or their representative, that they received a letter, or text to shield is also sufficient.
  • If a patient has no one else who can support to collect their prescription (relative/carer /friend), then discuss the option of the use of a volunteer.
  • Patients can request volunteer support directly using the NHS Volunteer Responders number 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm). The service has recruited DBS checked volunteers to support those who are also potentially even more vulnerable due to age, dementia or learning difficulties. Local volunteers organised by local councils or other local support groups may also be used; your LPC may be able to advise you on contacting local groups.
  • If volunteers are not suitable, or cannot be used in the required timeframe, then the pharmacy can deliver and claim for this under the Advanced service.
  • The service is subject to Post Payment Verification (PPV), so contractors are advised to ensure they keep appropriate records and to utilise SCR to identify eligible patients.
  • Read more on our Pandemic Delivery Service webpage


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