As part of the new service commissioned by NHS England & NHS Improvement, community pharmacies will deliver medicines to self-isolating patients during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Up to 1.5 million people in the UK have been told to stay at home for 12 weeks – a process known as shielding – as they are at the “highest risk of being hospitalised by the virus”, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said at a daily press briefing from 10 Downing Street on March 22.
Shielded patients will be asked to have their medicines collected and delivered to them by “friends, family or a volunteer” before being directed to the pharmacy provided delivery service if this is not possible, the PSNC explained in a statement on Sunday.
“We anticipate the service will commence in the next few days,” it added.
Contractors will be able to “request support from volunteers to undertake deliveries of prescriptions to any patient, not just those that are being shielded,” it added.
The volunteers are part of a national network being mobilised in response to the epidemic, and patients will also be able to request support from them.
The PSNC said it will “issue full guidance” to contractors as soon as it is able to.
AIMp: Funding “essential”
Leyla Hannbeck, Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) chief executive officer, said it is “essential there is funding available to cover these deliveries”, as community pharmacy is “cash-starved after many years of funding cuts”.
“We are playing a big role in the supply of medicines to patients who are worried, vulnerable and now those who need to self-isolate. The efforts of this sector need to be recognised and applauded,” she added.
Ms Hannbeck said AIMp encourages “more engagement with community pharmacy early on in the process”, and emphasised the important role pharmacies play in the community.
“We are doing whatever it takes to fight this outbreak,” she added.
Due to COVID-19, workers across UK pharmacy are under great pressure right now. If you would like to find out how you can help, take a look at current vacancies in and around your location. All levels of pharmacy professionals are needed.