Pharmacists should use ‘professional discretion’ to determine whether to make an instalment supply of controlled drugs in advance of Monday’s bank holiday, chief pharmaceutical officer for England David Webb has said.

The advice applies to Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) prescriptions already issued with instalments for 19 September, when many pharmacies will be closed for the Queen’s funeral bank holiday.

Some of the prescriptions covered in the guidance contain Home Office direction to ‘dispense instalments due on pharmacy closed days on a prior suitable day’, he said.

However, for prescriptions without this wording, Mr Webb advised pharmacists to use their ‘professional discretion’ when deciding whether to supply the drug in advance of the bank holiday, if the pharmacy will be closed then.

Mr Webb has told pharmacists to ‘make the care of the patient your first priority’ and ‘consider the potential impact of both making the supply in advance and of not making the supply in your decision making process’.

He also said that pharmacists could contact their local substance misuse service to seek their agreement to this approach.

The chief pharmaceutical officer acknowledged that the client group using these prescriptions ‘are often vulnerable with multi-morbidities and that the risk to them may be significant’.

In addition, he said that pharmacists must document any discussion and decision in the patient’s record, including rationale for any decision not to supply. If the intervals of supply for a liquid preparation are changed, the pharmacist must consider supplying it in separate containers for each dose.

Following NHS England’s decision to allow pharmacies to close on the upcoming bank holiday, it has confirmed that all community pharmacies’ Directory of Service (DoS) and NHS website entries will automatically be set to show as closed.

Pharmacies which plan to open on the bank holiday must update their entry on the NHS profile manager.