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COVID-19: Funding agreed as pandemic delivery service launches

PSNC: the service will ensure shielded patients "continue to receive the medicines they need, safely"
PSNC: the service will ensure shielded patients "continue to receive the medicines they need, safely"

English pharmacies are now contractually required to help “shielded” patients receive their prescriptions during the pandemic, with extra funding secured, the PSNC has announced.

Contractors in England are now required to ensure that shielded patients – “extremely vulnerable patients” who are protecting themselves against the coronavirus outbreak by “self-isolating at home” – can still receive their medicines, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said in an announcement last night (April 10).

As part of the community pharmacy pandemic delivery service, pharmacies will receive a monthly allowance to “recognise the work involved in supporting the group of shielded patients to obtain their medicines safely”, the PSNC added.

The exact amount is “aligned to the banding used for the transition payment”, with a pharmacy dispensing “the average number of prescriptions each month”, set to receive £500 a month.

In cases where no volunteers are available to deliver the medication, pharmacies will be able to claim £5 per delivery, plus an allowance for VAT, as part of a new advanced service commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement. This advanced service formally commenced earlier this week (April 9).

Both payments will be made from additional funding dedicated to responding to the pandemic, and are not part of the community pharmacy global sum.

Distance-selling pharmacies are excluded from the contractual obligations and advanced service, and therefore cannot claim the additional funding agreed for it.

Terms of service

Where shielded patients cannot identify a friend or family member to collect their prescription for them, the pharmacy must help the patient by advising on how to identify a volunteer to assist; deliver the medicine themselves; or arrange for another pharmacy to do so.

If a patient does not identify themselves as being shielded, but their prescription medicines “make the pharmacy team think they are within that group of extremely vulnerable patients” – for instance if they are taking immunosuppressant drugs – they should ask the patient if they have been asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks.

The full terms of service, including information on helping patients who are prescribed controlled drugs, are set out in the PSNC’s guidance page for the service.

PSNC “still has concerns”

PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said the service “will help to ensure that the most vulnerable patients in England can continue to receive the medicines they need, safely”.

“We are pleased that the logistics involved for pharmacies in this have been recognised and that this service is supported by extra funding for the sector,” Mr Dukes said.

However, he added that the PSNC “still has some concerns around the use of non-DBS checked volunteers”, which it has covered in its guidance.

Pharmacies are “of course allowed to continue” with any delivery arrangements they already have in place, including charging to deliver to patients outside of the shielded group,” Mr Dukes said.

However, he advised that home deliveries “should be prioritised to those who need them most during this pandemic”.

What do you make of the funding for the pharmacy pandemic delivery service?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

totally separate issue but, back of a fag packet calculation, 0.02% of the population of the world has or has had a case of this infection. That can't be right surely. The official figures must be WAY wrong else we are all panicking over nothing and I don't think we are. In the UK, according to our official figures, 0.13% of the population has been affected and 0.017% has died. That CANNOT be right given the restrictions we are under. Hells bells, this thing is turning me into a conspiracy theorist!!

You need to consider that people who are significantly affected by the virus need specialist care in hospital. A better measure is the number of hospital intesive care beds available.

Yes, the stats you refer to indicate the virus is not fatal to many people, but that is only part of picture. Treating 1000 covid patients takes a lot more resources than 1000 "normal" hospital patients. If the hospitals aren't able to give the care needed due to excess numbers of patients with severe symptoms, then there will be a big problem.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Will the psnc  EVER learn to tell the DoH to get stuffed? I have never, in my life,  seen such a complete dogs breakfast of a service spec. Its a disaster in terms of organisation and time for Pharmacy teams, not that I suppose anyone gives a tish

Thats without the whole who are these volunteers thing, AND who is liable if I deliver a script dispensed elsewhere and there is an error or the script goes awol.

If i gave the problem to a bunch of 5 year olds they would come up with a better solution

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

I would love to know what the down mark was for... any particular aspect or all of it?  someone from PSNC perhaps? we have an ideal opportunity to make the DoH look very very stupid, but no one seems to have the balls to do it. - obviously "keeping them onside" is working so well for us!

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

To put more salt on the wound, they top it up with ""It is the Professional Judgement of the Pharmacist to decide who is eligible"".

Why waste such precious time, in negotiating, preparing a vast document and have post payment verification clause, when ultimately it is the professional judgment of a Pharmacist?

The top brass at NHSE&I are going bonkers as usual.

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

""""However, he advised that home deliveries “should be prioritised to those who need them most during this pandemic”."""

I am searching for any medicine that will not be a priority during this period. Any suggestions? Even patients on emmollients can't cope without them and are isolating.

Except for the monthly fixed amount, this whole thing has been rushed without proper thoughts, just like how the Govt has handled the PPE and Testing so far.

This is not as straight forward as it looks.

1. The NHS itself  is not clear if all these "Vulnerable Group" patients have received their letters. Meaning, they are not sure if they have actually identified all those who are in this group. This will increase the work load of Pharmacy teams even more, to call all the patients to check if they have received any letter.

2. Then, the volunteer scheme is not straight forward too. We as a Pharmacy have to register on the GoodSam app website, give them our mobile number and keep checking if anyone is available. Then, we are supposed to refer the patients to a volunteer service and check if they are happy to use the service (many patients have already refused to let anyone other than the Pharmacy staff to come with their medications). By the time we find one (if lucky) we need to check if the volunteers are fit for the delivery. Then we need to see if they are available at the times we need the medicines to be delivered. All too much work on top of existing overload.

For a paltry £5 per delivery, we are once again made to go through a lot more than it is worth. No wonder the mental health helpline will come handy, if we get some time to call the helpline.

Even the patient group specification is not very clear. When they say immunosuppressants, there is no clarity on drug class or medical condition being treated. There are many patients who receive some injections directly from the hospital and the information is never shared with the Pharmacies!!

Why don't make it straight forward £5/ delivery for anyone taking xyz medicines or being treated for xyz condition. 

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

straight forward, and the DPH once again generous with the payment, and without doubt the contractors will make a 4 course banquet meal out of it!!, given that majority already have a delivery system in place!!

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

No wonder you are Axed Locum !!

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

here here

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

Because i refuse to be exploited by slavemasters like you, who always disingenously plead poverty!!


If it was as bad as Mr Lyonette had predicted, where are the mass closures??. Debenhams beat the Pharmacy Contractors in the "Closures Race"...The Paymaster had gotten soft in the head, and is splashing out money, so as to be seen to be doing something for the NHS to avert bad publicity in this pandemic crisis.

P M, Community pharmacist

60 more boots stores on their way.. another 60 locums or employed pharmacists looking for work .. hope your happy

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

Good luck to them,If they think outside the box, they will seriously pursue an alternative carrer.Landscape gardenung pays £25.00 p/h/, with no regulator to worry about, and working leisurely with with lots of fresh air and exercise. A blessing in disguise, perhaps?

Pharm Druggist, Community pharmacist

I feel like any debate is lost on people like you, but I'll try for the  readers who risk being mislead by you. Boots are vertically integrated, have major health and beauty OTC business to prop up income to ensure their survival, and even they are closing pharmacies. Think for a second and you will realise that independant contractors are unable to just 'close'. Contractors are real people, they have bank loans often ranging into hundreds of thousands of pounds and use property (e.g. their homes) as collateral/ a guarantee. If an independant contractor just shuts, they become homeless, and here you are judging the situation as "not so bad" (not exactly your words) because contractors are unwilling to be bullied out of their life's work and investment. Your response of 'good luck' to the 60 pharmacy teams that are about to lose their jobs speaks volumes, that you haven't taken a moment to try and understand the situation. Put simply, their jobs would not have been lost, if the business was still viable. The economic environment is forcing people out of jobs, and you, Axed Locum, don't believe that the situation is actually bad enough. Are we hoping for another 60? Probably still not enough to convince you, or the government for that matter. 

We haven't got as many Covid related deaths as Italy yet, the PPE shortage that everyone must not be as bad as it's made out to be, right? 

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