What PSNC is doing
What PSNC is doing
Community pharmacy contractors and their teams are understandably concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on them and PSNC has been working hard to put plans in place to support them.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, PSNC has been in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) to address the impact of the pandemic on community pharmacy.The discussions are complex and will be ongoing as the situation evolves, but we are continuing to press for further support and protection for pharmacies who are being impacted.
PSNC is very concerned about the viability of community pharmacies in this difficult environment and we have relayed our concerns to HM Government, including underlining the absolute necessity of protecting the services that pharmacies are providing at the moment. This has included meetings with officials and ongoing dialogue with the Pharmacy Minister, Jo Churchill.
Negotiations on high-level community pharmacy costs and funding throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have now formally begun. PSNC has had to the go-ahead from HM Government to begin the formal negotiations process, which could last many more weeks. Read more here.
Issues being addressed
Here are some of the many topics that PSNC is working to address to ensure that community pharmacy teams have the support the need to play their role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resilience of the network
We are in ongoing discussions with NHSE&I about resilience of the network and the importance of the community pharmacy network remaining open; and with staff absence due to illness or for other reasonable cause, this requires an increasingly flexible approach to opening hours and local arrangements between pharmacies to ensure continued supply of pharmacy services and essential medicines to patients and the public.
The provisions and guidance currently in place can be found on the Network resilience page.
We are pressing for the NHS to take a pragmatic and flexible approach to the regulations and terms of service, to enable community pharmacies and pharmacists to concentrate on patient care.
Changes agreed so far can be found on the Contractual and regulatory changes page.
Security of pharmacy staff
PSNC and the other national pharmacy organisations are increasingly hearing concerning stories about the security of pharmacies and their staff. We are working to raise security concerns with the relevant authorities and the RPS have written to the National Police Chiefs Council to help make sure that all pharmacy teams across the NHS are kept safe. LPCs may also be able to raise any security concerns with local police forces and the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Further guidance can be found on the Staff safety and security page.
Our Dispensing and Supply Team has been monitoring the generic medicines affected by recent price hikes and has made clear the need for protection for pharmacies against these sudden price rises. Pharmacy teams should continue to report supply issues to PSNC via the usual reporting forms.
More information can be found on the Supply of medicines page.
Other practical issues
Discussions are also ongoing on a wide range of practical issues including adding locum codes to Smartcards; supplies of OTC medicines; COVID-19 testing for healthcare staff; supply of posters and other display materials for contractors; communications; personal protective equipment for pharmacy staff; PNAs; opening hours; and periods of treatment.
Local issues – supporting LPCs
Additional support is being provided for LPCs to help them in their key role in coordinating local efforts to the COVID-19 response.
Richard Brown, CEO of Avon LPC, has joined the PSNC team on a part-time basis. His focus is on the excellent support that LPCs are currently providing and what more we can help them to give to contractors. He is working closely with PSNC’s policy team to work up solutions for the sector, looking particularly at the operational side of things. Richard has a wealth of experience in community pharmacy, including supporting businesses to operate as efficiently as possible and work throughout the Swine Flu pandemic.
Richard has launched a COVID-19 Rapid Action Team comprising an LPC Chief Officer to represent every region of England. The group will meet twice a week to capture queries / feedback / questions from the field plus gather great ideas about how community pharmacy teams are dealing with the pandemic.
COVID-19: Out-of-Hours supply of medication to Care Homes
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on health and social care, primary care and community health services have been asked to help provide the best possible care for care home residents. A key task was to review access to medication out-of-hours. As a result of discussions between the LPC Rapid Action Team and PSNC, a task and finish group has developed an LPC guidance document and service specification template after a review of existing and past out-of-hours medication services, to assist Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) with any approaches by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to explore the options to best provide care home residents with out-of-hours provision of medication.
Conscious of the limited information we could give in the early days of the outbreak, PSNC has being providing updates on negotiations through videos, an action list, blogs and a webinar. These all aim to outline PSNC’s ambitions and explain the work we have been doing behind the scenes to support community pharmacy teams.
30th June – Chief Executive’s blog
June’s PSNC CEO blog describes how his team are starting to look towards important negotiations for the autumn and winter of 2020/21.
29th May – Chief Executive’s Blog
May’s PSNC CEO blog looks forward to a post-COVID world where we can ‘Reset and Reform’ community pharmacy.
20th and 21st May – May PSNC meeting
The PSNC Committee held detailed discussions on which activities community pharmacies should stop, start or continue to do in the current and coming environment. Immediate priorities such as the NHS Flu Vaccination Service were considered as well as the role that pharmacies could play in future COVID-19 services such as testing.
15th May – PSNC CEO video message
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes confirms that negotiations on additional funding for the sector are ongoing, and describes how discussions with DHSC and NHSE&I are now also turning to the expected next phases of the pandemic in the UK.
29th April – Chief Executive’s Blog
April’s PSNC CEO blog focusses on community pharmacy’s role in the COVID-19 response, discussing the pressures that pharmacy teams are under and the financial support needed urgently.
15th April – COVID-19 webinar for pharmacy contractors
This webinar covered how PSNC is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including working with others and negotiating for additional funding for the sector. Click the link to watch the on-demand version.
31st March – PSNC CEO video message
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes reacts to the £300 million of advance funding agreed by Ministers in recognition of the significant cashflow pressures facing the sector at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic.
27th March – PSNC Briefing 016/20: COVID-19 Response – PSNC Negotiations Action List
This briefing lists the possible action points that PSNC is in urgent negotiations with the NHS and Government about. We will update contractors on these points as and when decisions are reached.
23rd March – PSNC CEO video message
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes recorded a video message for community pharmacy teams to explain the work that he and his team are doing on behalf of the sector.
21st February – Chief Executive’s Blog
February’s PSNC CEO blog describes how community pharmacy is already picking up patients concerned about COVID-19 who have been displaced from general practice, helping to make the case for the vital role of community pharmacy in primary care.