Coronavirus – Current advice for pharmacies

Please familiarise yourself with all of the following documents and information to support you in responding to COVID-19 outbreak. For advising your patients, helping avert misinformation and reinforce preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of contracting and/or spreading viruses, as well as taking safety precautions in your pharmacy for yourself, your pharmacy staff and delivery drivers.

Pandemic Delivery Service

PSNC Pandemic Delivery Service flowchart

PSNC has produced a flowchart showing the Essential and Advanced Service aspects of the Pandemic Delivery Service, as well as indicating what would be considered a non-NHS service.

Pandemic Delivery Service Overview (PDF)

The Terms of Service for all Community Pharmacies has been amended. It is now a requirement for contractors to help shielded patients receive their prescriptions. Shielded patients are specified as those who are extremely vulnerable and self-isolating at home.

Identified Shielded patients are initially encouraged to find a family member, friend or carer to collect their medications. If this is not possible, patients are advised to contact the pharmacy, in which case pharmacies must:

  1. provide advice to the patient on how to identify a local volunteer to collect the prescription from the pharmacy on their behalf and then deliver it. Thiscould be locally organised volunteer arrangements (e.g. organised by a local council) or volunteers from the NHS Volunteer Responders programme (see further details in sections 8 and 9); or
  2. where no volunteer is available, deliver the medicine as part of the Advanced service (see section 6); or
  3. where no volunteer is available, arrange for another pharmacy to deliver it on their behalf. The other pharmacy will be able to claim payment for the delivery under the Advanced service; or
  4. where no volunteer is available, arrange for the prescription to be dispensed and delivered by another pharmacy (by referring the patient to another pharmacy, including a distance selling pharmacy).

If a patient does not identify themselves, but you believe they are a shielded patient, please contact them and, f they are eligible, go through the above steps, starting with attempting to identify a family member, friend or carer to support them.

Please read the full guidance on these changes from NHSE&I urgently if you have not already done so (published 10th April 2020). Click here to read.

Funding for this will be paid as an allowance to pharmacies, automatically NHSBSA, aligned to the banding used for the Transition Payment.

In addition, an Advanced service is being commissioned by NHSE&I to fund any deliveries that contractors have to make to shielded patients. The service commenced 9th April 2020 and will remain in place until 1st July 2020, this will be reviewed as the situation develops.

Each delivery will be paid at £5 plus VAT and must be claimed via MYS. The service specification is also included in the above guidance from NHSE&I.

Please also read the Drug Tariff determination for the Terms of Service change and Advanced service, and the Secretary of State Directions

For more detail on the above changes and new service, click here for the full PSNC guidance.

Important Guidance Documents – Community Pharmacy

Guidance letter from NHSE&I for COVID-19 – 31st March 2020 – click here to read

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for COVID-19 – 22nd March 2020 Click here to view

Government Coronavirus Action Plan – 3rd March 2020 – click here to view

Latest case definition for potential COVID-19 infection (No longer includes travel advice)

Guidance for investigation and initial clinical management of possible cases – 18th March 2020 – click here to view current advice

Briefing for Primary Care providers from NHSE&I – 18th February 2020 – click here to view

Guidance for pre-registration pharmacies and trainee technicians from Health Education England and the Statutory Education Bodies Scotland and Wales. Click here to view

Booking a test for pharmacy staff – National testing scheme

In order to book a COVID-19 test for an eligible pharmacy staff member, you must refer to an email you will have received to your shared pharmacy mailbox.

You should have received an email on Saturday 18th April 2020, with details on how your staff can access testing, by the NHS Business Services Authority to the NHSmail shared mailbox. The email contained a link to an invitation template which can be given to employees needing testing.

It is important that neither pharmacy contractors nor their employees publish or share this invitation or the link.

If you are unable to find this message or have any further queries on the national testing programme, please contact DHSC by emailing opshub@dhsc.gov.uk.

Pharmacy Access to Volunteers

NHS Volunteer responders are available to support pharmacies in their response to COVID-19 and could support medicines delivery for shielded patients. PSNC have expressed concerns for patient and medicines safety, and their negotiations with NHSE&I are still ongoing, they have asked that pharmacies should only be required to use DBS-checked volunteers to deliver medicines.

You can start making referrals into the NHS Volunteer Responders referrer’s portal immediately. Alternatively, you can call 0808 196 3382 to make a referral. .

Should you wish to use volunteers for other roles, please see the current NHSE&I guidance

For more on PSNC’s current advice and negotiations regarding the use of volunteers for deliver, click here for their full update

There may be additional schemes and considerations locally, these will be directly communicated to affected pharmacies.

Opening Times and Business Contingency Planning

To support your COVID-19 response, should your pharmacy need to amend opening times or require an emergency closure, please consult the following Resilience Guidance:

Resilience Guidance – Part 1a: Opening Hours

Resilience Guidance – Part 1b: Opening Hours (shorter version)

Resilience Guidance – Part 2: Responsible Pharmacist

Resilience Guidance – Part 3: Emergency Closure

Emergency Closure Form (Word version)

In addition, you MUST inform NHS London Region at their team email england.lon-pharmacy@nhs.net, and not to the Director for London region. The team are not currently contactable by phone due to remote working.

Bank Holiday Opening times 2020

Arrangements for the May bank holidays are yet to be confirmed. In preparation for the upcoming bank holidays, if you are intending to open regardless of arrangements, please ensure you update your opening times for these dates on the DoS AND your NHS website profile (this will not update automatically.

If you are having trouble uploading the DoS, please speak with the DoS team on 0300 0200 363.

Business Contingency Planning:

Pharmacies are advised to check their Business Contingency Plan in case they need to make changes in light of the current situation. A Free Coronavirus (COVID-19) Quick Reference Guide is available from Custom Guide, you may find these materials useful – click here to view.

Furthermore, PSNC have a hub page with guidance on Business Contingency Planning – click here to view.

Personal Protective Equipment use in pharmacy:

PPE should be used by pharmacy staff entering a room with a potential COVID-19 case in an emergency, or when cleaning the room to protect from the product.

PPE guidance has been amended and now recommends use of masks in pharmacies when working in an area with possible or confirmed cases and unable to maintain 2 metres social distance

For more information, please see the government guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

If you have queries regarding PPE supply, please contact National Supply Disruption line (which operates 24/7) on 0800 915 9964 or email supplydisruptionservice@nhsbsa.nhs.uk.

In addition, please see this advice for delivery drivers during the COVID-19 outbreak

Protective Screens

Pharmacies will receive a £300 payment to support the installation of protective screen barriers to protect staff. This will be paid automatically.

Letters to Pharmacy

An open letter to from Jo Churchill MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for community pharmacy, April 2020 – click here to view

Second Letter from Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Dr Keith Ridge, regarding COVID-19, 19th March 2020 click here to view

Letter from Met Police regarding storage for the attention of pharmacy – 1st April 2020 – click here to view

Letter to pharmacies – supporting people to access medicines for released detainees click here to view

Posters & Resources for use in the pharmacy (Updates 10th April)

Please display the most recent posters in your pharmacy (Updated 10th April 2020) – Click here to download new materials from the PHE Campaign Resource Center

Each pharmacy should have received a pack of the following posters:

  • ‘Do not enter if you have symptoms of coronavirus’;
  • ‘Keep a safe distance’ – reminding people to keep 2 metres apart; and
  • ‘We may be closed to the public during certain times’ – with white space to add opening hours when the pharmacy is working part of the day behind closed doors.

In addition, a number of Public Information resources are available from PHE at the Campaign Resource Centre for use in your pharmacy: Click here to view available resources

Available CPD

CPD for Primary Health Care Professionals is also available. Espresso CPD: Guidance on novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV from Mims learning is available here (0.25 CPD hours)

Community pharmacy staff are key workers

Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

Even though we do not have a specific mention.

PHE Advice on Rapid tests for home use

Some manufacturers are selling products for the diagnosis of COVID-19 infection in community settings such as pharmacies, or for home use. Currently, Public Health England does NOT advise the use of these products

Click here for the full PHE guidance

GPhC Statement: How we will continue to regulate in light of novel coronavirus (Covid-19)

GPhC have published a joint statement on how they will will continue to regulate in light of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Click here to view the statement.

We recommend all pharmacy staff keep up to date with the latest advice & guidance for professionals on the GOV.UK website: Click here for the collection page

BMJ info-graphic for COVID-19 in Primary Care on what to do with a suspected case of COVID-19

Translations of NHS Advice

Doctors of the World UK have translated the NHS advice on how to safe during this period and to protect yourself and others from Covid-19 into multiple languages and are still adding to it and working to keep it updated as advice changes.

They are available on the google drive they have created here: https://t.co/flDzFRVNwf?amp=1

Illustration from Weiman Kow

An illustration from artist Weiman Kow on how the Coronavirus spreads, and advice on preventative measures. This illustration provides easy to understand guidance and information for all.

Please see the following PDF for the full version of all comics in one document, and the link to the original post where this and versions in other languages are available.

Original Facebook post available here

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  1. Pingback: Friday Letter 13/03/2020 – North East London Pharmaceutical Committee (NEL LPC)

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