Pharmacists must now ensure that patients wishing to access pharmacy services remotely are supported to do so, under new NHS regulations that came into force on Tuesday (20 October).

This could include providing necessary advice over the phone or by video consultation to patients who have always had their prescription delivered by the pharmacy, PSNC said.

The regulations state that pharmacists must also ‘establish, maintain and keep under review' procedures for any pharmacy services they make available for remote access.

Most of the changes made to the National Health Service (Charges and Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were previously agreed as part of the five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF), but some have been introduced as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Pandemic-related provisions

The changes include the flexible provision of flu and Covid-19 vaccinations, and other immunisation services, which allows pharmacists – with the agreement of NHS England – to pause other pharmacy services to prioritise the administration of such vaccinations ‘during a time of declared emergency’.

A Pandemic Treatment Protocol has also been introduced, which allows for the supply of medicines for Covid-19, if and when this is required.

The final pandemic-related addition to the terms of service is that owing slips may be distributed electronically, as well as a hard copy form, PSNC said.

The other new regulations, agreed as part of the five-year CPCF, include the Discharge Medicines Service, which is a new essential service due to start from 1 January 2021.

The new regulations follow changes to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 introduced last week (16 October), which allow pharmacists to administer potential Covid-19 vaccines.