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 Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said it will look at how it can help pharmacies update shielding patients when the NHS Medicines Delivery Service ends on 31 July 2020.
NHS England initially commissioned the delivery service to run from 9 April to 1 July 2020. However, the extension was confirmed in a letter to community pharmacies, dated 20 June 2020, from chief pharmaceutical officer for England Keith Ridge and Ed Waller, director of primary care strategy and NHS contracts for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at the PSNC, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the negotiator would “consider what resources it could develop to help contractors to communicate the end of the NHS-funded service to shielded patients”.
The NHS Medicines Delivery Service requires contractors to help shielded patients who are self-isolating to receive their prescriptions. As part of this, funding was made available for an advanced service, in which pharmacies would arrange home deliveries. The DHSC said that community pharmacies had provided more than one million home deliveries of medicines through the scheme during April and May 2020.
On 22 June 2020, the government said that the shielding support package — which included the pandemic delivery service — will remain in place until the end of July 2020, after which, the government has said it will no longer advise people in England to shield.
However, the government added that “support will remain available from NHS volunteers and local councils”.
Buxton said the extension of the service to the end of July “will provide those people to make alternative arrangements going forward (for example, via the support that will still be available from NHS volunteers and local councils) as necessary.”
When asked whether some contractors may choose to continue a service to vulnerable patients, Buxton noted that “prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, most community pharmacies were already offering a prescription delivery service — but funding cuts in recent years have taken their toll, with many choosing to start charging for or cutting back on the patients who are offered this non-NHS funded service”.
On 1 July 2020, LloydsPharmacy announced it was partnering with the food delivery company Deliveroo to offer rapid home delivery of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. According to a statement from LloydsPharmacy, customers of 16 pharmacies across the UK will be able to place orders for OTC medicine, which will be delivered in under 30 minutes.
“Over the past few weeks we have taken a number of steps to review and alter our in-store and online operations to ensure that customers can continue to access essential medicines and healthcare products safely and conveniently,” said Toby Anderson, chief executive of LloydsPharmacy, adding that the partnership with Deliveroo “marks a step change in the evolution of pharmacy”.