National Pharmacy Association (NPA) - News updates

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Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2021

  The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has announced that the next Ask Your Pharmacist (AYP) Week will take place from 1st – 8th November 2021. AYP Week provides a platform for pharmacy public awareness activities across the UK.  It also serves as a prompt for conversations with key stakeholders at a local level about community pharmacy services. During previous AYP Weeks: Pharmacies and NHS bodies have used social media and newspapers to signpost people to community pharmacy as the first port of call for common ailments Pharmacies have invited local dignitaries and politicians to visit for a health check and to learn more about the valuable services on offer NPA members have distributed leaflets about the range of services and skills in pharmacies, and appeared on radio talk shows Patient organisations and community groups have invited pharmacy staff to their meetings and webinars – to explain the evolving role of community pharmacy and how to make best use of local pharmacies. NPA Head of Communications, Stephen Fishwick, said: “The pandemic has given people a sense that pharmacies are capable of helping them in many ways that they, as patients, might not have previously imagined. Yet many people don’t know specifically what help is available in pharmacies, or how to access it.…

Superintendent update: NHS Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Advanced Service (Pharmacy Collect) (UPDATED 29/07/2021)

  Dear NPA Member,   On 29 March 2021, a new Advanced Service, ‘NHS Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Service (COVID-19 LFD Distribution Service)’, was commissioned to allow asymptomatic individuals to collect COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits from community pharmacies. The service is referred to the public as ‘Pharmacy Collect’ by NHS Test and Trace marketing and communications. The LFD test kits are to be provided free of charge to asymptomatic individuals to identify more people likely to spread the virus; therefore, breaking the chain of transmission, as part of the Government’s COVID-19 roadmap out of lockdown. On 5 April 2021, the Prime Minister announced that everyone in England should have access to free, regular rapid COVID-19 testing from 9 April 2021.   In this update we cover: Brief overview of the new Advanced Service ( updated 26/07/2021) UKAS registration NPA support and resources Other support available Funding and claiming payments Ordering and managing stock (updated 29/07/2021)   Brief overview of the new Advanced Service UPDATE 26/07/21: The service is commissioned until 29 August 2021 after which time, updates to the Service Specification are anticipated following possible insights from those involved in the service, including pharmacy contractors and Government and NHS Test and Trace policy on COVID-19 testing.…

Updates for SSP007 for fluoxetine capsules 30mg and SSP008 for Salazopyrin EN-Tabs 500mg (updated 29/07/2021)

In October 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issued two Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) following ongoing supply disruptions to fluoxetine capsules 30mg (SSP007) and Salazopyrin EN-Tabs 500mg (SSP008).  SSP for fluoxetine capsules 30mg (SSP007) – EXPIRED SSP007 came into effect on Tuesday 20 October 2020 SSP007 expired on Wednesday 28 July 2021 After 28 July 2021, any prescriptions presented for fluoxetine capsules 30mg must be dispensed in accordance to the prescriber’s instructions as SSP007 is now invalid SSP for Salazopyrin EN-Tabs 500mg (SSP008) – EXPIRED SSP008 came into effect on Tuesday 20 October 2020 SSP008 expired on Monday 8 March 2021 After 8 March 2021, any prescription presented for Salazopyrin EN-Tabs 500mg must be dispensed in accordance to the prescriber’s instructions as SSP008 is now invalid Advice for pharmacy teams: Ensure all pharmacy team, including locums, who will be involved in dispensing an item in accordance with an SSP are trained and competent to do so The SSPs and further information is available from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/pharmacies-gp-practices-and-appliance-contractors/serious-shortage-protocols-ssps Ensure the current version of the SSP is used before supplying the alternative item Ensure that the pharmacy team know where they can find new SSPs and/or changes to an existing SSP Ensure that an SSP standard operating procedure (SOP) is in place and other relevant SOPs are updated, read, understood, signed and implemented by all members of the pharmacy team involved in service delivery Ensure that the pharmacy has access to an NHSmail account (England only) or can receive emails so that it can receive notification when an SSP is issued Professional indemnity insurance NPA professional indemnity insurance will cover NPA members, customers (and the pharmacists they employ/engage) when supplying medicines/appliances under the relevant enabling legislation and the Serious Shortages Protocols (SSPs) which apply.…

DHSC and NHSE&I announces changes to self-isolation guidance for NHS frontline staff

  The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I), have announced that from 19 July 2021, fully vaccinated NHS frontline staff, including those working in community pharmacy, may be exempt from self-isolation rules provided certain conditions are met. This step has been taken to reduce the pressure on NHS and other social care services and only applies to NHS frontline and social care staff where their absence from work, due to self- isolation, could lead to significant risk of harm to patients. The decision to consider allowing staff to attend work after they have been told to self-isolate should made be on a case-by-case basis and a thorough risk assessment must be undertaken by the senior clinical lead of the pharmacy team (manager/superintendent/owner).   Key points for pharmacy teams: Staff who have been told to self-isolate via the NHS COVID-19 app or by NHS Test and Trace, can be permitted to return to work only if their absence could have a significant risk of harm to patients, provided the following conditions are met: They are fully vaccinated You are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine They provide a negative Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result immediately prior to returning to work They commit to undertake subsequent daily Lateral flow devices (LFD) antigen tests for a minimum of 7 days which should be negative The results need to be reported the NHS Test and Trace portal and to a senior member of the pharmacy team i.e.…

Community pharmacies and face coverings

  NHS England and NHS improvement (NHSE&I) have advised following the Prime Minister’s announcement that face coverings will be optional from 19 July 2021, that the current Infection Prevention Control (IPC) guidance for healthcare settings remains in place; this guidance is also applicable to community pharmacies. The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) statement issued on the 13 July 2021 on responsibilities for pharmacy owners should also be followed. We recommend that NPA Members continue to follow the NHSE&I and GPhC advice.   The IPC guidance outlines the following: Face coverings should be worn by patients when entering a healthcare setting; this includes community pharmacies There should be clear signage and information advising patients and customers of the necessary precautions in place Staff should maintain 2 metres social distance with patients, or wear Type IIR face masks where this is not possible Patients with symptoms of COVID-19 should be advised not to enter the pharmacy Pharmacies are not able to enforce the wearing of face coverings by staff or patients, they can however encourage the use of such precautions to help protect staff, patients and the public. It is appropriate to request someone politely who enters a pharmacy without a face covering if they have one, but if they say they are exempt then the pharmacy can take the patient’s word at face value and continue providing pharmacy services as normal, without asking further questions.   Key points for pharmacy teams The NPA statement on wearing of face coverings/ masks from 19 July 2021 can be accessed here Advice on face coverings is available from the Government guidance: “Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions and how to make your own” Ensure conversations are conducted in a confidential and polite manner, and staff are mindful and respectful towards individuals and each other when wearing face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment ( PPE) Employers will need to undertake a thorough risk assessment of the premises, and their staff, in order to decide how to proceed in ensuring continued COVID-security for staff, patients and customers; NPA updated work and individual risk assessments will be available  in due course Exemption to the use of face coverings Face coverings are not legally required to be worn in any setting, therefore an exemption is not required if one previously existed.…

COVID-19 vaccination for children and young people under the age of 18 years

  The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) requested advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the potential extension of the COVID-19 vaccination programme for children and young people under the age of 18 years. Following a review of the available data, from 19 July 2021, the JCVI has advised children and young people aged 12 years and above at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19 should be offered the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine.   Key points for pharmacy teams: Read the NHS England letter “Next steps following updated JCVI guidance in relation to COVID-19 vaccinations for children and young people” The JCVI advises children and young people aged 12 years and above with specific underlying health conditions, at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19 should be offered the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine; currently, these include: Children aged 12-15 years with Severe neuro-disabilities Down’s syndrome Underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression Profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) Severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register Further details will be updated in the Green Book, Chapter 14a The JCVI also recommend the vaccine should be offered to: Children and young people between the age of 12 and 17 years who are household contacts of an immunosuppressed individual Young people aged 16 to 17 years with underlying health conditions, as set out within the Green Book, Chapter 14a Young adults who are within three months of their 18th birthday The JCVI is not currently advising routine vaccination for children outside of these groups.…

NHS flu service – Further details on the NHS flu immunisation programme 2021/22 and eligible groups

  The DHSC, PHE and NHSE&I have provided further information on the NHS flu immunisation programme 2021/22, following on from the first letter published by NHSE&I on 1April 2021.   In 2020/21, global influenza activity levels were low due to restrictions being in place for COVID-19. As a result, a lower level of population immunity against influenza is expected in 2021/22 as restrictions for COVID-19 are no longer in place. It is expected that seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses will co-circulate with COVID-19 in the 2021/22 winter season. The modelling indicates the influenza season for 2021/22 could begin earlier than usual and may be up to 50 per cent larger and, therefore, the vaccination programme this winter will be a priority to reduce the pressure on health and social care.   Those eligible for a NHS flu vaccination in 2021/22 from a community pharmacy are: Children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021 Those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups Pregnant women People aged 50 years and over Those in long-stay residential care homes Carers Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals Frontline health and social care staff employed by: A registered residential care or nursing home A registered domiciliary care provider A voluntary managed hospice provider Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants. The letter also reinforces the Government’s expectation that all frontline health and social care workers should have an influenza vaccination to protect those they care for.…

Mandate fraud and community pharmacy

  The NHSCFA describe mandate fraud as “when someone contacts an NHS organisation with an urgent request to change a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by purporting to be from a genuine supplier that regular payments are made to.”  Such requests seem to be compelling especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.   Community pharmacies use IT systems and handle patient confidential information in their practice daily, for example, via the electronic transfer of prescriptions; hence can fall victim to cyber crime.  Community pharmacy contractors are reminded that the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) “Standards for registered pharmacies June 2018” requires that “information is managed to protect the privacy, dignity and confidentiality of patients and the public who receive pharmacy services”. The equivalent standard can be found in the Pharmaceutical Society Northern Ireland (PSNI) Code of Ethics and Standards, Standard 2.3: ‘Record, store and process data clearly and accurately’.   Key points for pharmacy teams: Ensure all computer operating systems are kept up to date Read the NPA ‘Cyber security, FAQs’ which outline key areas to be considered, including: The potential risk of cyber crime The measures that can implemented to help ensure cyber security The responsibility of pharmacy contractors to ensure adequate protection against cyber crime All pharmacy staff should be made clear on how and when to reports all incidents or cyber threats Pharmacy teams are responsible to ensure patient data remains confidential as part of Information Governance   Further reading: England: NHS Counter Fraud Authority: https://cfa.nhs.uk/…

Superintendent Update: IMPORTANT REMINDERS – ACTIONS REQUIRED (ENGLAND)

Dear NPA Member, This is an urgent reminder for NPA Members on two key topics: 1) COVID-19 additional costs claims process and deadline – NPA resources to support you now available NHS pharmacy contractors in England can claim for additional costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic for the provision of NHS pharmaceutical services over a 13-month period from 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021. All claims must be submitted to the NHSBSA between 5th July and  11.59 pm on Sunday 15th August 2021 by completing and returning the claim form  available from the NHSBSA website. The NPA are here to help members claim all eligible COVID-19 costs following the claims process announced by DHSC. Our Step-by-step guides for NPA Members include reimbursement of additional costs related to COVID-19 and calculating amount repayable for recovery of uplifts to advance payments by NHSBSA, don’t miss out on your reimbursement by working through your claim in good time, ahead of the 15th August 2021 deadline. Our informative webinar recording, where Anil Sharma (NPA Board Member) shares a contractor’s perspective, may also help you plan your claim. Watch our short video here where our Finance manager, Bijal Shah, explains some of the key points to take into consideration regarding tax and VAT aspects of the claims process and recovery of uplifts to the advance payments.…

Progestogen-only contraceptive pills to be available to purchase over the counter (OTC) from pharmacies

  The Medicines Healthcare products and Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the application for the reclassification of the following progestogen-only contraceptive pills from a Prescription Only Medicine (POM) to a Pharmacy medicine (P): Hana film-coated tablets 75mcg (PL 17836/0015) manufactured by HRA Pharma Lovima® film-coated tablets 75mcg (PL 42807/0002) manufactured by Maxwellia Limited Desogestrel is safe for most women to take and is indicated for the prevention of pregnancy in women of childbearing age. Following the reclassification, both Hana and Lovima® will be available to purchase over the counter (OTC) from pharmacies without a prescription, increasing the accessibility of oral contraceptives for women.   Key points for pharmacy teams: Read and understand the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPCs) for Hana and Lovima® Pharmacists should use the checklists for Hana or Lovima® available ,in order to help determine suitability of these products for women requesting them in the pharmacy Hana and Lovima® can be purchased OTC from pharmacies, however, desogestrel is still available free of charge from a doctor (on a NHS prescription), locally commissioned services and sexual health clinics Hana is currently in stock and available to order from AAH and Alliance Lovima® will be available to order from AAH, Alliance, Lexon, Sigma and DE Pharmaceuticals in the next coming weeks   Further reading: MHRA First progestogen-only contraceptive pills to be available to purchase from pharmacies : https://www.gov.uk/government/news/first-progesterone-only-contraceptive-pills-to-be-available-to-purchase-from-pharmacies…