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Pharmacy COVID test kit distribution service to launch in Scotland

A lateral flow device distribution service for community pharmacies will launch across Scotland on June 7, the Scottish government has announced.

The community pharmacy COVID-19 test kit distribution service – which is known publicly as Pharmacy Collect – will enable asymptomatic people to collect test kits free of charge from community pharmacies from June 7. However, the service is being promoted to the public from today (June 4), a circular from the Scottish government confirmed.

Pharmacies that sign up to the service will be paid £450 to cover the set-up costs, cost of implementing a new standard operating procedure, and staff training. Each pharmacy will receive a £2 distribution fee per kit.

Pharmacy teams will need to opt-in to provide the service and then order test kits from the participating wholesalers, Alliance Healthcare and Sigma Pharmaceuticals – or Phoenix for Rowlands pharmacies only – which will be supplied free of charge.

Free lateral flow test kits have been available to everyone in Scotland since April 26, with people ordering online or on the phone and collecting from test sites.

In a letter to pharmacies sent on Wednesday (June 2), the interim chief pharmaceutical officer, Alison Strath, said making the test kits available from pharmacies is “part of the Scottish government’s COVID-19 route map” to help suppress the virus.

“It is important to note that members of the public self-administer the tests away from the pharmacy, e.g. at home,” she added. “The pharmacy is not involved in the generation of test results, supporting the reporting of results or the next steps for the person taking the test.”

England, Wales and Northern Ireland status

Pharmacies in England have been distributing lateral flow devices free of charge since March 29, while the Welsh government said it is working with Community Pharmacy Wales on a potential Pharmacy Collect model for the country.

Last month, in a letter to contractors in Northern Ireland outlining the pharmacy commissioning plan for 2021/22, Joe Brogan, assistant director of integrated care at the Health and Social Care Board said: “There are other service areas emerging such as supply of lateral flow diagnostic tests which I have no doubt community pharmacy will play a very able part.”

In a list of FAQs provided with the Scottish government circular, it stresses that “there are no geographical restrictions placed on the provision of the service”, so patients from one of the other home countries can still collect COVID-19 test kits from pharmacies in Scotland.

Will your pharmacy sign up to this COVID-19 test distribution service?

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