Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.
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The pandemic delivery service will be restarting in England following updated advice from the government that people who are “clinically extremely vulnerable” should not go to a pharmacy.
The announcement was made in a letter signed by Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, and Ed Waller, director of primary care, that gave their “ongoing gratitude” to community pharmacy teams and said that owing to sustained community transmission of COVID-19, the delivery service would restart.
NHS England initially commissioned the pandemic delivery service to run from 9 April to 1 July 2020; the scheme was then extended until 31 July 2020.
This new service will run for four weeks, from 5 November 2020 until 3 December 2020.
In the letter, Ridge and Waller reiterated that the relaunch meant that all pharmacies and dispensing doctors in England would again be required to ensure that those on the shielded patient list received their medicines at home.
The updated guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19, published on 4 November 2020, identifies two new groups to be added to the shielded patient list: adults with stage five chronic kidney disease and adults with Down’s syndrome. The need for children and young people to stay on the list will also be reviewed considering individual circumstances.
It added that: ”People who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be advised by the Government not to go to a pharmacy.”
The letter also reminded pharmacy teams of the updated standard operating procedure for community pharmacy, published on 26 October 2020, which details that, if a pharmacy needs to temporarily close or change opening hours from 9 November 2020, it is a requirement to update NHS 111 directory of service and NHS website profiles to reflect this.
It also highlighted that from 1 November 2020, the need for patient signatures on prescriptions had been temporarily suspended until 31 March 2021.
The new shielding measures will apply nationally for four weeks until 2 December 2020. The Department of Health and Social Care said it would look to return to a regional approach thereafter, and would issue further guidance at the time.
“Community pharmacy teams are continuing to rise to the challenge of supporting the most vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.
“This is a vital role but also puts pressure on their stretched resources, so we are pleased that with the reinstatement of the Pandemic Delivery Service comes additional funding to support contractors in this work.”