The Scottish Government and Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) have joined forces to establish a new NHS community pharmacy delivery service to support services during the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Scotland.

Announcing the new scheme at a press conference earlier today (18 January) First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the service will be financed with £5 million from government.

Pharmacy contractors who participate in this service will receive a one-off payment of £1,460 to cover initial set-up costs and the additional workload associated with the scheme.

Although many pharmacies already offer a medicines delivery service, the NHS scheme will offer a ‘more consistent and comprehensive service’, Ms Sturgeon said.

The service will be available to approximately 1.5 million people across Scotland, including those who have been shielding and people who pharmacists believe would benefit from the service.

‘[The scheme] will reduce the need for people to go outside for their medicines at a time when transmission rates are still high. It will also help people who struggle to get to their nearest pharmacy and ensure that everyone has access to the medication that they need,’ Ms Sturgeon explained.

Alison Strath, the interim Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland wrote to the community pharmacy network to inform them of the details of the delivery service.

Deliveries will be sorted and undertaken by ‘appropriately qualified’ members of the pharmacy team or a third-party provider, the circular explained.

The delivery service is expected to begin by the end of January and will be available to patients until March. The scheme will be reviewed again before its end date to determine whether it is required beyond then.

Commenting on the new development, Jeanne Freeman, Cabinet Secretary, said: ‘This new service comes at a pivotal moment in our response to the Covid-19 outbreak, helping to alleviate pressures on face-to-face dispensing in our fantastic network of community pharmacies.

She added: ‘Our funding will help to provide home deliveries of vital medicines for the most vulnerable people in our society, preventing their exposure to the virus and keeping them safe during this difficult period.’

CPS welcomed the new scheme, adding that the ‘Scottish Government and community pharmacy teams will continue to provide great service both in and out of their pharmacy premises.’

Scotland was placed under the toughest tier of restrictions from 26 December as a result of a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.

Ms Sturgeon also announced that 1,429 positive Covid-19 tests had been reported in Scotland over the past 24 hours.