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Pharmacies in England may be asked to stay open over May bank holiday

By Isabel Shaw

24 Apr 2020

NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) announced on Wednesday (24 April) that it is considering asking community pharmacies in England to remain open over the 8 May Bank Holiday.

The announcement came three weeks before the bank holiday, as the NHS wanted to give pharmacies ‘more notice’ than before the mandatory Easter holiday opening – for which they were given less than one week.

HSE&I Director of Primary Care Strategy and NHS Contracts, Ed Waller, said in a Covid-19 Community Pharmacy Webinar that the opening of pharmacies during these extra hours may be necessary to assist GP surgeries; however, it is still in ongoing discussion with PSNC.

In a statement, PSNC has said that they expect that ‘NHSE&I will treat the upcoming 8th May Bank Holiday in the same manner as the Easter Bank Holidays’.

PSNC’s director of operations and support, Gordon Hockey spoke of the urgent need for arrangements to be made ‘soon’.

‘PSNC is in discussion with NHSE&I about pharmacy provision on the Bank Holidays in May. We are seeking terms similar to those put in place for Easter and have requested that a decision is made as soon as possible because contractors have limited time to make the necessary staffing arrangements,’ he said.

Earlier in April, community pharmacies were told to stay open over Easter holiday; which some in the sector considered ‘unnecessary’.

Community pharmacies were required to stay open for three hours between 2pm and 5pm over the Easter holiday and were funded £250 per hour, claimable through the manager service application via the Business Services Authority.

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