PSNC has asked NHS England to activate new regulations that will allow pharmacists to ‘focus exclusively’ on vaccinations for parts of the day.
The new regulatory provision, introduced earlier this month (9 November), allows for contractors to pause other NHS services while providing a ‘relevant immunisation service’ for a specified period.
However, a PSNC spokesperson told the Pharmacist this can only happen after NHS England makes an announcement, and PSNC is now asking for that announcement to be made.
The spokesperson added that the provision would most likely apply to flu vaccinations at this time – but could also be used to deliver Covid-19 jabs.
The change is one of several actions that the negotiating body is asking the Government and NHS England to take to help address workload and staffing pressures during the second wave.
Delay PQS requirements
PSNC has also asked that contractors are given more time to complete the second part of the Pharmacy Quality Scheme, but that this ‘does not delay delivery of the associated funding’.
Under part 2 of the scheme, contractors had to choose one of five domains, such as infection control or risk management, and fulfil the quality criteria within it to qualify for payment.
‘We know many contractors have already made good progress on meeting the quality criteria but those in areas of higher Covid-19 prevalence have struggled,’ PSNC said.
‘The valuable work associated with the scheme should still be completed in due course, as long as access to that vital funding is retained in the agreed timeframe.’
Christmas opening hours
The negotiating body is also pressing the Government and NHS England to provide clarity on Christmas and New Year pharmacy provision ‘as a matter of urgency’, issue national guidance to help tackle issues with the Test and Trace system, and suspend routine data requests.
PSNC said many of the action points have been in discussion ‘for many weeks’, but as was the case with the first wave, ‘decision-making has been too slow’.
Simon Dukes, PSNC chief executive, said: ‘Contractors are under a huge amount of pressure as we move through this second wave of Covid-19 – both financially and operationally.
‘As you can see from our updated negotiations action list, PSNC has been pressing for a range of measures to help pharmacies to cope with these operational pressures, alongside our two funding bids.’
He added: ‘HM Government and the NHS must take action now to better support pharmacies as they continue to provide such a critical part of our primary care response to this global health crisis.’