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COVID-19: Pharmacy teams eligible for NHS volunteer support

NHS volunteers can carry out tasks including delivering food shopping to pharmacy teams
NHS volunteers can carry out tasks including delivering food shopping to pharmacy teams

Pharmacy teams are eligible for help from NHS volunteers, who can take on tasks including delivering shopping or transporting individuals to appointments, the DH has confirmed.

The COVID-19 NHS volunteer responder service has been extended to support frontline health and social care staff, including pharmacy teams, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) told C+D yesterday (June 9).

The expansion of the volunteer scheme was announced by the DH last week (June 6). It enables health and care staff to access help from NHS volunteers, who can carry out tasks including delivering food shopping, dropping off personal medication to frontline staff at their homes and taking them “to their essential appointments”.

While the original announcement made no specific mention of pharmacy teams, referencing only “health and social care staff”, the DH has now confirmed to C+D that this expansion does cover the pharmacy sector.

The scheme will help health and care staff “protect those they care for by making fewer journeys and coming into contact with fewer people so they can focus on and continue their vital work,” the DH said.

Care minister Helen Whately said the government was expanding the volunteer scheme to support “all our wonderful health and care staff”  and help them in “whatever way we  can to make their lives easier while they continue to support others most in need”.

The NHS volunteer responders initiative was set up as part of the COVID-19 response and involves volunteers who carry out simple non-medical tasks to support people in England who are shielded, self-isolating or fall into a vulnerable group.

In April, the scheme came was criticised by legal experts, who argued that pharmacists could be held responsible for medication deliveries going wrong if volunteers were used as part of the pandemic delivery service. However, the General Pharmaceutical Council said it would not hold pharmacy teams responsible for “actions of other people outside of their control” in fitness-to-practise cases.

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said she is “delighted” that staff working in health and social care can now draw on the help of NHS volunteer responders

“The opportunity for frontline staff to access help with their shopping and prescription deliveries will free up more of their time to care,” she added.

2 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the extension of the volunteer scheme?

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

I would like to thank all the volunteers but .... REALLY? is that the best they can come up with? After all the things Pharmacy has been left out of over the last 3 months, strangely the one we are included in from the start costs them nothing... its nice to know your value isnt it!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

What they want you to do is not do any food shopping or anything for yourself, be at work 24/7 with the nice layer of germs that you accumulate every day (I'm getting heartily sick of walking straight from the front door to the shower) then, if you actually need to eat, someone else can get the stuff for you! So kind isn't it?

Reading between the lines of this bit - “protect those they care for by making fewer journeys and coming into contact with fewer people so they can focus on and continue their vital work,” - how DARE you take a day off to do things for yourself??

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