The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is “demanding clarity” on the role pharmacists will play in planned mass flu vaccinations this winter.
In a statement released on 12 August 2020, it said there was a “clear role for community pharmacists to work in parallel with GPs to increase capacity both for the flu jab and in delivering the COVID-19 vaccination when available”.
Both England and Wales have been promised the largest flu vaccination ever this winter. In Scotland, community pharmacies will be providing NHS flu vaccinations for the first time, although pilots were undertaken in late 2019.
The demand came as part of a wider call for assurances for the pharmacy sector ahead of “a likely resurgence of COVID-19 during the winter months”. The Society said that the combined risk of a second wave alongside seasonal illnesses means the NHS must “ensure robust plans are in place and that pharmacy’s role within them is clearly defined, resourced and enabled to meet the challenges head on”.
In particular, the RPS highlighted the need for access to appropriate and culture- and gender-sensitive personal protective equipment; and for urgent, “meaningful risk assessments for all staff, particularly for our BAME colleagues, for whom the prevalence and risks of COVID-19 transmission are higher”.
Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS, said that “pharmacists must be represented and heard in winter pressures planning processes and decisions.
“Plans must map out how community pharmacy can continue to deliver essential routine services and be mobilised and resourced to manage local and regional outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus.”
Gidley added that pharmacy teams’ resilience had been “tested to the limit” during the pandemic, and that plans for winter must include care for the mental health and wellbeing of staff, and protection against burnout.
“Above all, there must be assurances that all frontline pharmacists are protected from the risks of virus transmission while COVID-19 continues to circulate, so they can continue to deliver effective patient care”.