This new, daily update contains important information for community pharmacy teams about the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In today’s update: resilience guidance, operational status reporting, delivery service update, NHS volunteers scheme, NHSE&I webinars
PSNC, working closely with NPA, CCA and AIM, has published guidance to help support and maintain the community pharmacy network during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These are unprecedented times and exceptional measures may be required to ensure patient and public safety, as well as the safety and welfare of the pharmacy team. The joint guidance therefore considers the support needed for pharmacy staff to stay well at work, in the context of opening hours, during what are likely to be increasingly difficult and stressful times.
The guidance addresses three aspects of an NHS pharmacy’s terms of service – opening hours, responsible pharmacist and unplanned (emergency) closures – with advice given on how best to address each going forwards.
Pinnacle Health, now operating as part of the EMIS group, has been working closely with PSNC over the last week to develop a reporting template allowing pharmacies to record their operational status. This will allow pharmacies to record the level at which they are operating against a Red, Amber, Green traffic light system and provide feedback to LPC leads and Head Offices about the challenges they are facing. For sites recording an Amber status, the template allows a pharmacy to record and feedback details of their operational challenges and also provide information on planned closures, in line with the revised COVID-19 SOP released by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) over the weekend.
For pharmacies faced with no alternative other than to close, i.e. recording a RED status, the template supports recording of actions taken in line with the requirements of Annex 14 of the NHSE&I pharmacy manual, and details of the closure itself. All information recorded and saved for a RED status will prepopulate a form that can be printed when data is saved. The form can be sent to the regional NHSE&I office to inform them of the closure.
The national Medicines Delivery Service
Last week HM Government announced that around 1.5 million vulnerable (“shielded“) patients are being asked to self-isolate at home for 12 weeks. PSNC is currently concluding discussions with NHSE&I and DHSC about a new national community pharmacy medicines delivery service to support this group of shielded patients.
We are urgently seeking agreement on the fees to be paid to contractors for the service (which will come from new monies to the sector) as well as the service specification for this new national service. We have shared as much information on the service as we are currently able to on our website.
We hope to make an announcement on the service soon. The service was a wider HM Government initiative which involves a number of Departments working together. This is happening at pace, but with Regulations and Directions needed for the service, this is all taking some time. PSNC is continuing to the stress the urgency with which contractors and LPCs need clarity on this.
NHS Volunteer Army
The NHS has today launched a major campaign to “rally the troops” for the war on coronavirus, with volunteers being asked to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home.
GPs, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for their at-risk patients via a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), who will match people who need help with volunteers who live near to them. Some charities will also be able to refer people to the service.
PSNC has been supporting NHS England and NHS Improvement’s work with the RVS to put in place a process to allow the volunteers to support the delivery of prescriptions during the pandemic. Further details will be published as soon as possible on how community pharmacy contractors will be able to access this support from NHS Volunteer Responders.
Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Keith Ridge and Director of Primary Care Strategy and NHS Contracts Ed Waller of NHSE&I are inviting community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to join them for fortnightly webinars on COVD-19.
The first webinar is tonight (Wednesday 25th March) at 7-8pm and can be accessed via bit.ly/2UvmZW8
Due to the numbers involved, colleagues from community pharmacy will be unable to speak but comments and questions can be submitted via the chat function.