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Charities pay pharmacies for paused supervised consumption services

Three charities have opted to pay pharmacies the full fees for supervised consumption, even if they were forced to pause the serviced due to COVID-19, C+D has learned.

UK charities Humankind, Change Grow Live, and We Are With You have told C+D that they decided to continue paying the pharmacies who offer their supervised consumption service even if they were forced to pause it during the pandemic, to support them financially.

Humankind, which provides services to meet health and social needs, offered this support to pharmacies in areas where it holds a contract for supervised consumption from March to June, “and where we can we’ll be offering this for a bit longer”, director of pharmacy Roz Gittins told C+D yesterday (July 28).

“We’ve based payments on their prior activity, regardless of whether or not they were able to offer supervised consumption [during the pandemic], to financially help them during that time,” Ms Gittins added.

Change Grow Live, whose services include support with drug and alcohol addiction, has been paying supervised consumption fees to pharmacies “each month since March, based on 100% of February’s supervised consumption fees”, chief pharmacist Mohammed Fessal told C+D last week (July 21).

The charity has pledged to continue paying pharmacies the full amount until the end of September.

Pharmacies who report higher levels of supervised consumption activity than those registered in February will be compensated for “the additional activity undertaken”, Mr Fessal added.

We Are With You, which offers services to help people make behavioural changes while coping with mental health, drug or alcohol issues, offered support to the pharmacies its works with by paying for their supervised consumption services “at pre-COVID-19 levels until the end of June”, the charity's director of pharmacy Dr Rachel Britton told C+D.

“As the lockdown has gradually eased, we have continued to support pharmacies where the level of supervised consumption is less than it was before the pandemic,” she said.*

Financial support

Change Grow Live reached the decision to continue covering pharmacies’ supervised consumption fees back in March, applying it to “every area of the country where we hold budgets”, Mr Fessal said.

“This is our financial assurance to community pharmacies, in recognition that they are a key partner in supporting people who use our services through their treatment plans,” he added.

Change Grow Live, did not want “any financial worries” to hinder “the amazing work” pharmacies do, Mr Fessal continued.

Humankind also wanted to do what it could to support pharmacies financially during the pandemic, Ms Gittins said.

“We acknowledge how challenging things have been for community pharmacy contractors and we’ve continued to work in partnership with them,” she said.

Contractors have been “amazing” during this time, “for example assisting with giving out take-home naloxone kits and safe storage boxes on our behalf,” Ms Gittins added.

During the lockdown, We Are With You moved the “majority of our clients receiving a script away from supervised consumption” for their own safety and to reduce the pressure on pharmacies, Ms Britton said.

“We are incredibly grateful to pharmacies who were able to continue to support our most vulnerable clients during the pandemic and are delighted that we can continue to support this vital pharmacy service as restrictions ease.”

* This article was amended on July 31 to incorporate information from We Are With You.

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