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COVID-19: Pandemic delivery service extended in local lockdown areas

The pandemic delivery service has been extended in parts of England affected by local outbreaks of COVID-19, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) has announced.

The service has been recommissioned for a month, from August 1-31, only for patients who are shielding and live in areas affected by local lockdowns, NHSE&I said last week (July 30).

“Pharmacy contractors should ensure that they are fully aware of which geographies are in local lockdown at any given time”, NHSE&I said in the letter.

At the moment, the areas affected are “the original Leicester lockdown area, announced on June 29; Blackburn with Darwen; and Luton”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said in an update to contractors last week (July 31).

The recommissioned delivery service still features an essential service – whereby pharmacy contractors need to ensure medicines are delivered to eligible patients who are shielding – and an advanced service, where the pharmacy directly delivers the medicines to the patients if there is no-one available to collect it on their behalf.

PSNC has agreed with NHSE&I that contractors working in areas affected by new outbreaks of the virus will receive payments for providing the essential part of the delivery service until the end of August, “but the payment will cease, as previously planned, for all other contractors” it said in last week’s update.  

The national pandemic delivery service came to an end last week (July 31) following the government’s decision to ease guidance for 2.2 million people who had been shielding since the beginning of lockdown.

Contractors and LPCs told C+D last week that they felt the end of the service had not been well communicated to patients by the government, and some feared patients would interpret the end of free deliveries as each individual pharmacy’s decision, rather than the service coming to an end because pharmacies are no longer being funded to provide it.

What do you make of NHSE&I's decision?

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