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COVID-19: National medicines delivery service announced for England

PSNC: More guidance for contractors will be issued soon

A national community pharmacy medicines delivery service for England is due to start “in the next few days”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

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.

What do you make of the new service?

Stephen Walker, Community pharmacist

Of all the hair-brained ill-considered and stupid ideas? Who vets the volunteers, who is responsible of data breaches, who in the right mind is going to let unknown, untrusted "volunteers" near frail and vulnerable patients because the government says it's ok? Instead of telling us what we should deo it's about time the profession told the government how to, and what we need to do our jobs safely. Most of us know what we're doing and do it for the right reasons. Whose head will be on the block if a patient comes to harm as a consequence of this lunacy? Ours. Come on PSNC, I'm sure your job is harder than most of us realise but negotiation is what is says. This is not acceptable. Someone needs to get the politicians ear - I rarely see anyone from Pharmacy bodies on television nor on the radio. Tell my staff they're protected with nothing to protect them and being told to open bank holidays when no payment to underpin the service is properly agreed. Are wholesalers delivering on bank holidays? We'll use our own known, trusted and trained volunteers if our driver is overwhelmed.

Sanjay Shah, Community pharmacist

'We anticipate the service will commence in the next few days'....
Well that was on the 24th....
In 5 minutes it'll be 1st April and either I've missed it or nothing yet!
Don't worry PSNC, maybe we'll have a service once the crisis is over...

Rajeshvari Patel, Community pharmacist

If these well meaning members of the public are requiring vetting , haven't got time for that, sorry! First choice is ask family, then  friends, then neighbours and then our delivery service and then worse comes to worse for absolute urgent needs, I would rather go myself after closing. Where are you with this PSNC? Speak loudly for us ,please 

Andrew Boyle, Community pharmacist

Needs formalising. Much the best, safest and reliable way is by coordination through existing  delivery processes with proper funding. Once again Government show they don't understand Community Pharmacy. There is a need now and we are doing it. Let's have this acknowledged.

Martin MOLYNEUX, Community pharmacist

If you think it is a good idea to hand tramadol etc to random people on some of the estates we operate on then you have no idea of the real world. Who is liable when these volunteers have the inevitable crash or fall off their scooter/bike ?

You must be kidding me

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Put it on Deliveroo - people are happy to pay for a pizza delivery, and it takes the logics away from pharmacy. Sorted!


Leon The Apothecary, Student

Not such a mad idea actually...

mansour dadkhah, Superintendent Pharmacist

I believe we as pharmacist should create a new union and negotiate directly with the government about funding and contracts. With all different social media it should easy to get together.
I believe it's a joke when government knows the number prescription delivery has dramatically gone up, yet they don't give you anything for it. They talk about complete lockdown, but then loads of volunteers running down the street delivering sensitive meds without proper check.

Zoe Spivey, Pharmacy technician

Always moaning, take the help. Dont think now is the time to be demanding money.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Providing it doesn't cost pharmacy anything to provide this service, I agree with you. Otherwise, no dosh, no delivery. 

Priya Shah, Community pharmacist

Goverment announced it to the country a week agi. As usual we are the last to know. When there is a massive error in delivery with these volunteers, who will take responsibility? Absolutely shameful that our professional bodies cannot support us adequately when its needed the most.

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

Sounds like it will be a "payment in kind" set up - we will give you a free volunteer so no actual hard cash!

Sunil Patel, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Are those who are making these decisions engaging with pharmacy to understand the practicalities around all this? Agree that we need to be involved at early stages of planning and not have things dropped on us the last minute that simply are not practical. 


Ebers Papyrus, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Local pharmacy has reduced hours or closed so doctors trying to change nominations to other pharmacies. Meanwhile wholesalers are a day behind with orders and patients are ringing up wanting OTC meds and sundries delivering! Staff coming in earlier and working until 10pm to catch up. Sound familiar anyone?

Stephen Kane, Community pharmacist

I will be using every volunteer I can get, re-deploying my drivers into other areas of the business, and letting whoever is responsible worry about the delivery and sustainability of this service.


Leon The Apothecary, Student

It's not meant to be sustainable though is it? It's an emergency measure.

Stephen Kane, Community pharmacist

This is total nonsense.

Most areas already have a functioning Pharmacy delivery network, it just needs formalizing and funding.

What happened to 'whatever it takes' Boris, Matt and Richi?



Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

This is beyond belief. No doubt we will told how to vet the volunteers and make it all our responsibility.


Where is the logic in this?! The country is supposed to be on lockdown and the gvt want thousands of volunteers to walk the streets delivering?! How about paying us properly so we use our own trained drivers! 

Ebers Papyrus, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I presume the government is going to insure all these volunteers whilst delivering medicines? Each volunteer will require chapter and verse on the process and who's liable if something goes wrong? Hancock will need to publicise it nationally so those customers expect it, as they will be turning up on mass to collect them. Expect a back of the fag packet arrangement like most of the QPS and services thrown our way. 

On Break, Community pharmacist

I am concerned how we get all these extra prescriptions to people. Its a nice idea that volunteers will do it but I have not seen any in the pharmacy yet. Plenty of family members picking up for elderly relatives though which is a nice change.

Now people have received these NHS letters telling them they are shielded patients they are phoning expecting and demanding delivery. Despite the letter advising them that family or friends or these magic volunteers should be used first. 

Funding is desperately needed for us to utilise our already trained and vetted delivery drivers to safely deliver CDs and fridge items as well. If we had fuding for this we could simply extend our delivery hours as our drivers work 4hours each day. This obviously cannot be done without additional money.  Using volunteers could also complicate our supply chain and increase the risk of theft of medicines or  GDPR breaches which I am sure we will end up having to resolve on top of sourcing hand gel and face masks!!!!!



N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""COVID-19: National medicines delivery service announced for England"""

Misguiding Headlines.

It is still under negotiation. Nothing has been announced yet. It was clearly told/ informed by the PSNC that they are still negotiating for this service.

So please don't jump the hoop so early like all other announcements (£10,000 per small businesses, £5 million loans etc) this is just in planning mode right now.

Dave Downham, Manager

And this is announced on the same day that Hanc**k stands up and says he wants 250,000 volunteers to help with medicine delivery. Another service they don't value as they think people will do it for free.

Dave MacRae, Community pharmacist

What about patients in Scotland Wales and NI??


V K P, Community pharmacist

who are these volunteers?? will they be trained in safe handling on medication and DBS checked?? Just give pharmacy the funding and recognize the service that they have been providing all this time at a loss in the belief that one day the effort will be recognized and valued. however once again let down is on the cards. Let the system feel the pain and suffer for sense to be knocked into the DHSC. 

RS Pharmacist, Primary care pharmacist

This is a ticking time bomb, what about schedule 2 and 3 CDs, I hate to be cynical and untrustworthy and I am sure these volunteers are very good and kind members of the community, but unfortunately there will be abuse of this. I hate to be on the phone when the patient calls to say there have not received their delivery.  

O B, Community pharmacist

Apparently when you sign up you have to give your passport or driving license as id then wait 72 hours for a dsb check

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

The level of DBS check that can be completed in 72h will be - have you been in prison or on a register - I doubt it can go much further than that.... 

Dave Downham, Manager

DBS won't pick up if you have a habit...

Robert Mitchell, Community pharmacist

Wholeheartedly agree.

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