Pharmacy bodies are in talks to roll out urgent medicines supply and delivery services to support vulnerable patients during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The two new services would allow patients to receive medication without a prescription from their GP if the practice is closed, and pharmacies to delivery medication to patients who are self-isolating at home.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) today (19 March) announced the government’s plan to commission the new services, along with a series of other measures that have been agreed, to help community pharmacies through the developing coronavirus crisis.

Details and funding arrangements for the two new services are under negotiation, the PSNC said.

Other measures that have been agreed between the PSNC, NHS England and NSH Improvement (NHSE&I) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) include:

  • postponement of the pharmacy quality scheme (PQS) for three months, with the date open to review. The £18.75m freed up will be delivered to contractors for Covid-19 response activity
  • delay of the hepatitis C testing service for at least three months beyond April
  • postponement until further notice of three pilots – blood pressure testing, smoking cessation, and point-of-care testing – that were announced last month
  • not extending the community pharmacist consultation service (CPCS) beyond the pilots that are currently in place
  • NHSE&I not taking action against contractors who haven’t completed the CPPQ and clinical audits by the end of March, or updated their practice leaflets during the pandemic
  • only running health campaigns that relate to the national Covid-19 response
  • extension of the submission deadline for the data security and protection toolkit by six months, from 31 March to 30 September.

Pharmacies that conduct telephone consultations with patients with respiratory symptoms that are not thought to be Covid-19, will be eligible for payment under the CPCS.

The PSNC stated that it has also called for urgent ‘significant’ funding to safeguard the sector, as well as for the additional services that have been agreed.

In addition, it wants the government to put the NMS and MURs on hold, to provide funding for pharmacies that have to close temporarily, to boost cash flow to cover price increases, and to provide indemnity cover for redeployed pharmacy staff.

Simon Dukes, PSNC chief executive, said: ‘Everyone in community pharmacy is phenomenally busy at the moment responding to the rapidly developing Covid-19 situation, and I know that the radio silence on national measures has been unhelpful, frustrating and worrying.

‘We and other pharmacy bodies have been working flat-out behind the scenes to make your case at the highest levels and will continue to do so.

‘There is much more to do, and PSNC is in ongoing and urgent discussions with NHSE&I and DHSC on a significant number of issues related to the Covid-19 response, while LPCs are also busy managing local responses.

‘Our discussions are wide-ranging and will be ongoing as this situation continues to evolve.

‘We will continue to work to get answers and solutions for you and we will continue updating you as soon as we are able to.'