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Pharmacies should help deliver 24/7 COVID-19 vax service, Labour urges

Keir Starmer: I want to see every possible pharmacy deployed to help

The Labour party is calling on the government to commission England's community pharmacies to help deliver a 24/7 COVID-19 vaccination programme by the end of February.

Labour leader Keir Starmer will, on Thursday (January 14), call on the government to “capitalise on pharmacies’ strong local links and their offers to support the rollout to help deliver a faster, 24/7 [vaccination] programme” by the end of next month, the party has announced this evening.

As part of its “three steps to help speed up the [vaccination] programme across England”, the Labour party will urge the government to “put the nation’s 11,500 pharmacies at the heart of the rollout, to guarantee vaccines can be delivered on every high street”.

“Every high street has a pharmacy and I want to see every possible pharmacy deployed to help,” Mr Starmer said.

Last month (December 30), shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called on the government to give pharmacists and GPs access to additional trained staff and public buildings to help them vaccinate a greater number of people. 

“Working flat out”

Commenting on the proposals, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Sandra Gidley said: “Pharmacy is of course keen to contribute to the national effort and is already involved in a big way in hospitals and GP-led sites.”

But she stressed that providing a 24/7 vaccination service “would be very challenging”.

“The staff we do have are already working flat out and facing stress and burnout. Bringing more community pharmacies into the vaccination programme as it rolls out to increase capacity would seem a more logical option,” Ms Gidley added.

Earlier this week (January 11), vaccines deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said that around 200 pharmacies are involved in the first phase of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination service, but more will join later.

His statement echoed health secretary Matt Hancock’s pledge on the same day to involve more pharmacies at a later stage of the vaccination campaign, to “persuade people…who are less certain that they want the vaccine to get the vaccine” and simplify access to it for those who “find it difficult to travel”.

Last week, C+D launched a petition urging NHSE&I to scrap the red tape and let more pharmacy teams across England pitch in with national COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Sign the petition.  

Would you be happy for your pharmacy to provide a 24/7 COVID-19 vaccination service?

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

What is the rate? Are Boots and co expecting their pharmacists to do this for free out of the kindness of their heart ?

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

I am sure 6 am until midnight will accommodate anyone who is currently working. The elderly will not be out late in the early hours. Community pharmacy will not be any better treated financially when this becomes a memory. We really are the plebs that want to keep on giving and fine words are free.

S M, Locum pharmacist


I wonder how much a doctor would charge, if they were to work after 6pm (anti social hours)? Easily 100-150/hr? I mean you know the rate for weekends and so on, easy 80-150. Yet pharmacists prob work 25 hours for the same crappy rate from millions of years ago. Do you remember the time gov didn't give a S about you all through out pandemic, and every time they just gave you a pat on a shoulder, after you all made a fuss? Well stop getting excited acting as a hero. You are not a hero in their eyes, you are just a cheap (and I mean very cheap) labour for them, to cost effectively vaccinate the whole nation at the cheapest negligible rate. While of course their pals make millions of pounds getting contracts to import PPE, or selling a fiver meal for 30 quid. 

I am happy to stay awake all night at 3-4x normal rate (btw my normal rate is high itself against Duncan's advice). No point doing more when you are exhausted from a 9-6 abuses by the employer and the patients. Doctors had it easy all year round, time to flood their surgeries with patients now like they did to us. 

E simon, Community pharmacist

I can't really see the justification in providing a vaccination service between midnight and 6am... But pharmacies could definitely help in providing vaccination outside of the "normal" working hours of Monday to Friday, 9am - 5.30pm...

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Regardless of time, will you pay your employee a premium ? Or expect them to scramble around between prescriptions with a syringe in their hand ?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

I hope you don't believe vaccination is currently happening only during 'normal' hours? I had my first vaccine at 5pm on a Sunday. But, to stick to the point, if there are DNA's during sociable hours, what is the likelihood that a good number would not attend at eg 3am. Also, how will this be funded? What rate does a Midnight to 6am shift attract and will it still be viable (ie profitable) for the contractor? 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

It should remain profitable as many employees will find themselves strong armed in to doing it with thinly veiled threats hanging over their employment. Travelling back from Planet Boots/Contractor to planet earth,£500 upwards would be reasonable  reasonable for an overnight shift.

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