COVID-19: Delivery service restarts in England as lockdown begins
The pandemic delivery service will restart in England from today (November 5) as the country goes into a month-long lockdown, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has said.
The service has been recommissioned nationally for a month – from November 5 to December 3 – for “clinically extremely vulnerable” patients who are shielding at home and cannot access their medicines, NHSE&I said in a letter to contractors yesterday (November 4).
Two further groups have been added to the list of shielded patients who are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and therefore eligible for the pandemic delivery service: adults with stage 5 chronic kidney disease and adults with Down's syndrome.
NHSE&I said the need for children and young people to stay on the list will also be “reviewed considering individual circumstances” and that the summary care record will be “updated accordingly”.
“People who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be advised by the government not to go to a pharmacy,” NHSE&I said in the letter.
In guidance for shielding and clinically vulnerable patients updated yesterday, the government said patients in this group are “in the first instance” to ask a family member, friend, carer or volunteer – including NHS volunteer responders– to collect medicine from pharmacies on their behalf, as was outlined when the pandemic delivery service first launched in April. However, if neither option is available, patients in this group have been advised to contact their pharmacy, which will arrange a delivery “free of charge”, the guidance specified.
All contractors, excluding distance-selling pharmacies, will continue to receive an allowance “to recognise the work involved in supporting the group of eligible patients with their deliveries,” with the exact amount “aligned to the banding used for the transition payment”, the PSNC has said.
Increase in delivery requests
Chris Armstrong, pharmacist and owner of Armstrong's Pharmacy in Sheffield, told C+D yesterday the service is “much needed, as the number of requests for delivery has massively increased over the last few days”.
Responding to the announcement, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said yesterday: "Community pharmacy teams are continuing to rise to the challenge of supporting the most vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“This is a vital role but also puts pressure on their stretched resources, so we are pleased that with the reinstatement of the pandemic delivery service comes additional funding to support contractors in this work,” he added.
Amish Patel, managing director at Hodgson Pharmacy in Longfield, Kent, said the pharmacy “welcomes the news”. “Once again community pharmacy will demonstrate its ability to be agile and meet [people’s] needs at the click of a finger,” he added.
The pandemic delivery service in England originally came to an end nationally on July 31. However, it has since been extended several times in local lockdown areas across the country – including in Leicester, Blackburn and Darwen.