Speaking at a webinar for community pharmacies and GP practices last week (July 15), NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) director of primary care vaccination Caroline Temmink said that community pharmacies will have to pay for indemnity cover in the third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, while GPs will still be covered by a state-backed scheme.
Following this announcement, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) wrote to vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, calling for the previous state-backed scheme – the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Coronavirus (CNSC) – to continue.
RPS English board chair Thorrun Govind said she was “surprised and concerned” that pharmacies would no longer benefit for state-backed indemnity for the booster vaccination programme.
“Expecting community pharmacists to now start paying for their own indemnity insurance is an extraordinary position,” she said in the email to Mr Zawahi, sent July 22.
“This creates an unnecessary and avoidable barrier to boosting the number of vaccinators and is inequitable with other health professions.”
AIMp and PSNC keeping an eye on talks
Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D it would be “unfair if pharmacy is being asked to operate under a different set of rules from the rest of the NHS” for providing the same service.
“We are keeping a close eye on the current discussions between the government and indemnity insurance providers and we are asking that pharmacies are not penalised for wanting to continue their support in delivering care to patients and to participate in the vaccination programme,” Dr Hannbeck said.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) told C+D it too has pressed for state indemnity for pharmacists to continue into phase 3 of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
“However, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) is proposing shared indemnity cover – part private, insurance market, part state indemnity- followed by only private, insurance market cover,” PSNC director of operations and support Gordon Hockey explained.
“If the DH proposals are adopted, it will be important that contractors have access to relevant private, insurance market cover, to be able to offer the booster service to patients,” he advised.
“We will keep an eye on the discussions between government and pharmacy insurers to ensure that contractors are supported on this issue.”