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NHS England: Pharmacies must open on early May bank holiday

Community pharmacies in England must open on May 8, despite it being a bank holiday, NHS England and NHS Improvement has stipulated.

Pharmacies must be open for three hours – between 2pm and 5pm – on Friday, May 8, which is a bank holiday. Any exceptions need to be “agreed in advance” with NHS regional teams”, NHS England and NHS Improvement said in its COVID-19 primary care bulletin last week (April 24).

The decision comes after the “positive impact” pharmacies opening over the Easter weekend had on “the wider health and social care system”, the bulletin said.

“We know demand is variable across the country and with more notice local primary care capacity could have been better matched in some areas,” NHS England and NHS Improvement said in reference to the Easter bank holiday.

Planned bank holiday cover in community pharmacies is to “proceed unless otherwise agreed with [NHS England and NHS Improvement] regional team,” the bulletin stated.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it will “be pressing for funding to cover the additional costs” that extra opening hours “at short notice and on a bank holiday” will bring for contractors.

A formal announcement with further details as agreed by health secretary Matt Hancock is due to be issued by NHS England and NHS Improvement early this week.

Requirements in Scotland

Pharmacies in Scotland have also been requested to open on “either both or one of the scheduled May public holidays”, and will receive £1,200 for a full day opening or £700 for a half day opening, according to a letter from Scotland's chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr.

he letter was sent to contractors later week (April 24), and asked that pharmacies “provide a full range of pharmaceutical care service” on the bank holidays.

Do you agree with the requirement to open on the early May bank holiday?

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