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COVID-19: Delivery service extensions continue in lockdown areas

The pandemic delivery service has been further extended in parts of England with restrictions due to local outbreaks of COVID-19, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) has said.

The delivery service has been extended in “local outbreak areas” affected by lockdowns, NHSE&I announced last week (September 4).

It will run for another two weeks from today (September 8) across nine wards in south and west Blackburn, Darwen and nearby rural areas, coming to an end on September 21.

Starting today, the service will also continue in Leicester and in eight wards in north east Blackburn until September 23.

The extension of the pandemic delivery service in these areas, outlined in an NHSE&I letter to contractors last week, follows the service being recommissioned in local outbreak areas twice previously.  

Last month (August 28), NHSE&I announced that the service would continue for one week only – from September 1 to September 7 – in the Leicester city lockdown area and Blackburn with Darwen .

This came after an initial extension in “the original Leicester lockdown area, announced on June 29; Blackburn with Darwen; and Luton”, announced on July 30 and in place August 1-31.

The recommissioned delivery service contractually mandates pharmacies to “ensure shielded patients in these areas can receive their prescription medicines and appliances” until the specified dates, NHSE&I said in the letter.

The service still comprises two elements – an essential service where contractors need to ensure medicines are supplied to eligible patients who are shielding – and an advanced service where the pharmacy delivers the prescribed item to the patients if no-one is available to collect it on their behalf.

Claiming payments

Contractors can submit payment claims for delivering medicines to patients via the NHS Business Services Authority Manage your service portal. Claims must have been received “by the 5th of the month after the service was provided” in order to be processed, NHSE&I wrote in the letter.

“Only community pharmacies […] located within the lockdown areas notified in this, or future announcements will receive the essential/mandatory service payments”, the letter clarified.

The pandemic delivery service was initially met with some criticism amid concerns that pharmacists could be held responsible and potentially face legal action if mistakes were made by NHS volunteer responders in delivering medication to patients as part of the service.

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