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NHSE pledges to rectify pharmacist COVID-19 vax registration issues

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has pledged to resolve an issue faced by pharmacists applying to sign up to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

Several pharmacists flagged the issue on Twitter yesterday (January 4). They reported that the NHS application form to join the team of COVID-19 vaccinators does not list pharmacists among the registered healthcare professionals who can apply for the role.

The person specification on the application page indicates that registered healthcare professionals on the Nursing and Midwifery Council for nurses, “[General Pharmaceutical Council] GPhC for pharmacists and equivalent for other healthcare professionals” are suitable for the role.

Chief pharmaceutical officer for England Keith Ridge replied to the concerns on Twitter yesterday to say that the issue had been “raised with the right team” and that NHSE&I would “report back asap”.

An NHSEI spokesperson told C+D today (January 5) that the issues experienced by these pharmacists were caused by an error that is being promptly rectified and pharmacists should not experience the same glitch when completing the application in the future.

The spokesperson said: “Community pharmacists will soon be playing an important role in local vaccination services, alongside the tens of thousands of others who have trained to deliver this vital protection. We are delighted that current and former pharmacy colleagues are keen to play a role too, as vaccine supplies increase."

Unnecessary red tape

The pharmacists also said that the documentation required to complete the application might slow down the national efforts to recruit vaccinators and have a detrimental impact on the ability to vaccinate many people as quickly as possible.

A selected number of pharmacies in England will begin administering the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from next week, NHS England said in a letter to the successful candidates last week (December 28).

NHSE&I started the designation process to select suitable pharmacy-led sites on November 27, a few days before the UK approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

On December 30, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was also approved for use in the UK. The first doses of this vaccine are being delivered to a “small number of hospitals… for surveillance purposes” before they are sent to GP-led services later this week, according to NHSE&I.

Pharmacy bodies are making a case for community pharmacies to become more involved with the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, especially following the approval of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Have you applied to become a COVID-19 registered vaccinator?

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