National Pharmacy Association (NPA) - News updates

Certain pages on this news feed are only available to NPA members and hence requires members to log-in accordingly


Face coverings mandatory in shops, including pharmacies and supermarkets (updated 23/9/2020)

From 24 September 2020, face coverings must be worn by retail, leisure and hospitality staff working in areas that are open to the public and where they’re likely to come into contact with a member of the public. This requirement is also applicable to all community pharmacy staff working in areas that are open to the public and where they’re likely to come into contact with a member of the public. In community pharmacy, there is also existing guidance from Public Health England which is applicable to all primary and community care providers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control/new-recommendations-for-primary-and-community-health-care-providers-in-england. Please see information on registering to access the PPE portal on the NPA website: https://www.npa.co.uk/news-and-events/news-item/register-to-access-the-ppe-portal/   Working safely Section 6 of the sector-specific guidance on Working safely during COVID-19 for shops and branches (which includes community pharmacies) states: Employers must ensure that all staff in retail settings wear face coverings when in areas that are open to the public and where they are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public, unless they have an exemption. Employers should continue to follow ‘COVID-19secure’ guidelines to reduce the proximity and duration of contact between employees. Where face coverings are required for staff, businesses are expected to provide these as part of their health and safety obligations.…

CCA and NPA issue service continuity guidance ahead of COVID second wave

Providing Pharmaceutical Care in Crisis Situations sets out the stages of a response to a crisis for individual pharmacies and for pharmacies working together. In some circumstances this could include the sharing of staff and stock, to maintain essential services. It provides a coordinated approach to dealing with significantly increased demand and reduced capacity that may be caused by national emergencies and local major incidents, including the impacts of COVID-19. Five levels of response go from business as usual, through to protecting essential services by concentrating resources and co-ordinating temporary closures. When a pharmacy can no longer safely provide pharmaceutical services to the public then it is expected that pharmacies within the local area will work together to pool resources of premises, people and products, in order to continue the provision of essential pharmaceutical services for local communities. At all levels of response, staff need to have the chance to rest and recuperate. CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison said: “These documents are a set of principles. They have been designed to help contractors think about the steps and actions they should consider taking in emergency situations, including in the current pandemic, to support the community pharmacy network to continue to provide pharmaceutical care to their local communities”.…

Register to access the PPE portal

Pharmacies can now order, for free, personal protective equipment (PPE) they need for their staff to use, to support them working in a COVID-secure manner when delivering NHS pharmacy services. Previously, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) added pharmacies to the list of health and social care providers who could access the PPE portal as an emergency top-up system only. To use the PPE portal, pharmacies are required to register by responding to an email registration invitation that was sent to the pharmacy‘s shared NHSmail account. Pharmacies that have not completed registration to access the portal are advised do this as soon as possible. For details, including the order limits and delivery times, read the DHSC PPE portal guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ppe-portal-how-to-order-emergency-personal-protective-equipment   Acute shortages guidance withdrawn Public Health England (PHE) produced guidance “Considerations for acute personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages” in April 2020 due to PPE acute shortages. As the supply of PPE has now improved, PHE has withdrawn this guidance; similar guidance based on appropriate scientific evidence at that time will be re-issued if it is required in the future.   PPE technical specifications Technical specifications for PPE and medical devices during COVID-19 have been updated by the Health and Safety Executive and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).…

Job Support Scheme

On 24 September 2020, the Government announced further measures to assist employers and employees in the form of a Job Support Scheme. This will replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which is due to come to an end on 31 October 2020. This FAQ sets out what we know so far, reflecting the information in the Treasury’s Factsheet dated 24 September 2020 – further guidance is expected shortly. NPA members can also receive individual advice from our Employment Law Advisory Service by email on employmentadvice@npa.co.uk  or by calling  0330 123 0558. What is it? The focus of the scheme is stated to be to protect “viable” jobs. The company will continue to pay its employee for time worked, but the burden of paying for hours not worked will be split between the employer and the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction), and the employee will keep their job. The Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third. This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages, where the Government contribution has not been capped. The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months, until April 2021. Who is eligible? Employers All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant.…

The NHS Scotland National Out of Hours Operations Group acknowledged the efforts community pharmacy contractors

In a letter to Prof Harry McQuillan, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland, the Chair of the National Operations group for NHS Scotland Out of Hours service, Dr Sian Tucker acknowledged how grateful the group were to community pharmacy contractors for maintaining services throughout the pandemic. Dr Tucker recognised how difficult it was for pharmacy, as unlike GPs no virtual management or NHS triage was available.  …

The Gluten Free Food Prescribable List has been updated in NHS Circular PCA (P)(2020) 18

PCA (P)(2020) 18  details the Gluten Free Foods that can be prescribed for patients within the NHS Scotland Community Pharmacy Gluten Free Food Service (GFFS). This list has been updated due to discontinuation or withdrawal of some items. NHS Boards will be updating their local GFFS formularies in line with the list.…

NPA hub and spoke roundtable shows risks remain – as parliament considers law change

The National Pharmacy Association has published an account of an expert discussion on hub and spoke dispensing, held at the King’s Fund earlier this year. Organised by the NPA and chaired by King’s Fund chief executive Richard Murray, the participants included representatives from community pharmacy, the pharmaceutical industry, wholesalers, the NHS, government and regulators. The meeting concluded that hub and spoke has some potential to release capacity at pharmacies and improve patient safety, but that there are significant risks and barriers to overcome.  It was also a key theme that other capacity-releasing measures could achieve similar aims without the same risks. All participants at the roundtable in February had access to a NPA report published that same month, which highlighted that large scale automated dispensing remains very limited globally, despite the technology being established for many years. NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said: “This meeting was unique in terms of the broad range of stakeholders it brought together in one place to discuss this important issue. The NPA remains very sceptical about some of the grander claims made for hub and spoke dispensing. No studies of the impact on patient safety of the full end-to-end process have yet been conducted.But we see it as our duty to seek solutions that mitigate risk for our members and patients, to engage fully in debates about automation and service re-modelling and to ensure proper scrutiny of the assumptions on which claims for hub and spoke are built.”…

NHS QR codes and NHS Test and Trace service: what it means for pharmacies

The government announced new restrictions on 22 September 2020 to suppress the increasing number of coronavirus cases in England. The new restrictions include the requirement for businesses to display the official NHS QR code posters. This will enable customers to ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the App is rolled out nationally on 24 September 2020.Doing so will help effectively identify individuals who may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive to coronavirus, to notify them and take necessary steps to minimise the spread of the infection via the NHS Test and Trace service. As people visiting pharmacies are expected to wear face coverings and they tend to move around on pharmacy premises and not usually congregate, pharmacies are not required to display NHS QR code posters Further details on this can be found on the NHS Test and Trace FAQs: https://faq.covid19.nhs.uk/article/KA-01183/en-us?parentid=CAT-01043&rootid=CAT-01027 Although this requirement will not be mandatory for community pharmacies, the NPA suggests members to use the online tool available to create the NHS QR code posters for the pharmacy and display them; this can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster. For multiple pharmacy premises, a separate QR code needs to be created for each location.…

Current rules around Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) during COVID-19 pandemic

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is the minimum amount an employer is required to pay to an employee if the employee is absent from work due to incapacity by reason of disease or physical/mental disablement which stops them from being able to perform their duties. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SSP regulations have been amended on numerous occasions, to cover various scenarios where someone will be considered to be incapacitated (even those who are not themselves ill) and, therefore, entitled to SSP. Government guidance regarding SSP: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay Employer guidance on SSP, including how to can claim back some SSP: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19 Scenarios that may present within a community pharmacy setting are detailed below, including changes made to the date from which SSP is payable.   Shielding If a pharmacy employee is shielding as per advice from their GP or hospital clinician and, therefore, unable to work – this may not apply in areas where shielding has been “paused”, hence, the latest government guidance on shielding should be checked From 15 April 2020, SSP is payable for every day the employee is shielding  Guidance on shielding can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19   Self-isolation If a pharmacy employee is required to self-isolate for the required periods because: They themselves have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive, or they live with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms, or tested positive From 13 March 2020, SSP is payable for every day the employee is required to self-isolate They have been advised by NHS Test and Trace that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive From 28 May 2020, SSP is payable for every day the employee is required to self-isolate Someone in their ‘support bubble’ (or extended household in Scotland or Wales) has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive From 6 July 2020, SSP is payable for every day the employee is required to self-isolate They have been advised to do so 14 days prior to undergoing surgery or other hospital procedure From 26 August 2020, SSP is payable for every day the employee is required to self-isolate   Schools When the child of a pharmacy employee is sent home from school because another child has COVID-19 symptoms or there is a positive case of COVID-19 identified in their bubble/class, the family members of the child are currently not required to self-isolate under the current government test and trace guidance and therefore, the pharmacy employee is not entitled to SSP Please refer to the most up-to-date guidance on NHS Test and Trace: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works When the child of a pharmacy employee is sent home from school because it is their child who has COVID-19 symptoms or received a positive test result, the family members are required to self-isolate for 14 days in-line with government guidance and the employee would be entitled to SSP. Please refer to the most up-to-date guidance on NHS Test and Trace: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works   Returning to the UK If a pharmacy employee is required to quarantine because they are returning from a country not on a safe list, also known as the travel corridor, they are not entitled to SSP, unless one of the above scenarios apply The latest information on travel corridors can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors   Additional scenarios: If the pharmacy choses to send an employee home, away from work, as a precautionary measure of their own choice, then this would be for health & safety reasons The employee should be on full pay Employees are permitted unpaid emergency time off to arrange care for dependants, not to undertake care themselves, so usually this time is limited to 24-48hrs, although this will depend on the circumstances and a longer period may be reasonable This is normally unpaid, but check any contractual entitlement to pay In situations requiring more than two days absence and/or the reason for being off is to care for a child relative, rather than making arrangements for their care (for example, in the case of a younger child sent home from school as in above scenario) alternative arrangements may be required, therefore, the employee could consider: Taking annual leave Whether there is any entitlement to parental or other types of leave Working from home if feasible considering job type and caring responsibilities Taking unpaid leave   Please contact the Pharmacy Services team for further advice and support: Telephone: 01727891800 (Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm, Sat 9am to 1pm) Email: pharmacyservices@npa.co.uk…

Pharmacists vaccinate Ministers against flu as Autumn begins

National Pharmacy Association member Mike Patel of Pearl Chemists this week gave flu vaccinations to Health Ministers and dozens of officials at the Department of Health and Social Care HQ in London. Today, Public Health Minister Jo Churchill MP got her flu jab at Greenlight Pharmacy.  She thanked the NPA for making the arrangements. Jo Churchill said: “I can’t stress enough how important it is that people in eligible groups get their flu jabs.  Pharmacies play a crucial role in the NHS flu vaccination service and I got my flu jab done in a pharmacy today.  Thanks to the NPA for making arrangements for DHSC staff to be vaccinated, and highlighting how important it is for people to get protected.”   NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said: “We were delighted to arrange for NPA members to vaccinate Ministers and Department of Health & Social Care officials against flu. Events like these help spread the message that people can get themselves protected against flu in a variety of settings, including conveniently at their local pharmacy.  It’s also a further reminder to senior politicians that pharmacies are vital public health facilities, which need support to keep on delivering great patient care and address population needs.”…