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.
PSNC webinars for contractors and LPCs
PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes will be hosting two COVID-19 webinars on Wednesday 15th April: one for community pharmacy contractors and one for LPC Chief Officers.
In the contractor webinar, we will outline how we are arguing for additional funding and PPE provision as well as pushing to reduce the burden of many contractual and regulatory requirements. We will provide an update on negotiations as well as looking to the weeks ahead. For LPC Chief Officers, we also cover this, but we will focus as well on the operational side, looking at how we are working together and can strengthen that going forwards.
Wednesday 15th April
Book your place
|LPC Chief Officers webinar
Wednesday 15th April
Book your place
For several weeks now 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 already being impacted by the outbreak in the UK.
PSNC’s asks for the sector
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.
We have told HM Government that, in addition to measures set out above, the sector needs:
- A significant cash injection to ensure the resilience of the sector, supply chain and prevent closures;
- New monies to fund the additional services being agreed;
- Further reductions in services including pausing the New Medicine Service (NMS) and Medicines Use Reviews (MURs);
- Funding for pharmacies that have to temporarily close;
- Measures to support cashflow during the pandemic, e.g. due to increases in medicine prices; and
- Indemnity cover for re-deployed pharmacy staff.
Resilience: 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.
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.
We are progressing urgent discussions on all of these and will update contractors as soon as we can.
New services under discussion
As part of the national response to COVID-19, HM Government is seeking to commission two further services from the community pharmacy sector:
- An NHS Urgent Medicines Supply Service: This would be a service for patients whose GP practice is closed, allowing them to continue receiving their medicines without a prescription. The service will be switched on locally as needed – this has already happened in an area of Devon.
- A Pandemic Delivery Service: This would support vulnerable patients self-isolating at home. Details and funding are under negotiation, but NHSE&I have confirmed that there will be additional funding for such a service.
All further details are the subject of urgent discussions with NHSE&I and DHSC. Full guidance on these two services will be made available to contractors as soon as possible.
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.
Contractors are also reminded that as supermarkets and others increasingly prioritise NHS staff over other customers, NHS or other forms of identification can become targets for theft and should be kept safe and not on display.
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
Medicine supply issues
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.
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.