NHS England has told community pharmacies they will not be asked to open for routine care over the Easter weekend this year, however it added it would keep the decision under review.

Local Covid-19 vaccination sites are the exception, NHS England added. Sites signed up to deliver the Covid Vaccination Programme have committed to open on bank holidays if they receive a vaccine delivery at that time.

The news comes as pharmacies in England were told to open for the Easter weekend last year, to relieve pressure on NHS services during the coronavirus outbreak.

Pharmacies were also asked to stay open for the early May bank holiday in 2020, subject to local agreement.

However, the latest primary care bulletin from NHS England said: ‘With the Easter bank holiday weekend fast approaching, we wanted to confirm there are currently no plans to ask all of primary care (general practice, community pharmacy, dentistry and optometry) to routinely open again. However, we continue to keep this position under review, subject to the changing demands of the pandemic.’

The notice added that commissioners ‘should continue to work with their providers to ensure sufficient cover arrangements are in place to meet expected demands for primary care services over the bank holiday weekend’.

‘Local vaccination services remain the exception, where necessary providing a seven-day service, including bank holidays. Further communications on that will follow,’ the bulletin said.

‘We are extremely grateful to those who will be working over the Easter weekend but hope that everyone will be able to benefit from additional rest days.’

A version of this story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.