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Designated pharmacies to begin COVID-19 vax rollout 'from next week'

Pharmacies have to meet a set of requirements in order to offer the vaccination service
Pharmacies have to meet a set of requirements in order to offer the vaccination service

Pharmacies approved to deliver the local enhanced service (LES) COVID-19 vaccination programme will begin administering vaccines "from next week", NHS England has said.

Pharmacies in England were asked to apply to provide the LES back in November and had to meet a set of requirements, including the ability to administer “a minimum of 1,000 doses of vaccine over a seven-day period from each designated site”.

When asked on Twitter today (January 4) when community pharmacy will be joining in the “roll out [of] the Oxford vaccine”, Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director of primary care at NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I), said "from next week".

"Brilliant to have them as ever," she added.

In a letter to contractors of approved sites, dated December 28, NHSE&I said pharmacies had until midnight tonight to sign the LES agreement, ahead of the "planned go-live from week commencing" January 11.

C+D has asked NHSE&I to confirm the number of pharmacy-led sites that will begin the rollout.

Vaccine approval

NHSE&I started the designation process to select suitable pharmacy-led sites on November 27, a few days before the UK approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

On December 30, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was also approved for use in the UK. The first doses of this vaccine are being delivered to a “small number of hospitals… for surveillance purposes” before they are sent to GP-led services later this week, according to NHSE&I.

£8m to cover "reasonable additional costs"

NHSE&I has made £8 million available "to cover reasonable additional costs" associated with the vaccination programme, including changes to existing premises or additional venue hire and increased electricity bills and storage costs.

It will not cover "costs that are already funded via other routes", including additional staff costs and indemnity insurance, it said in the letter.

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) chief executive Leyla Hannbeck told C+D today that the organisation is “pleased” with the approval of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and the fact that some pharmacy-led sites will begin offering the vaccines from next week, however the delay to pharmacy’s involvement in the vaccination efforts so far is “disappointing”.

“We are disappointed that despite pharmacy issuing a record number of seasonal flu vaccinations this year and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine being similar to handle as the seasonal flu vaccine, our community pharmacies, which are conveniently placed to support the rest of the NHS in delivering this historic vaccination programme at scale nationally, are not being engaged already now as part of the solution," she told C+D.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it is “keen to see the sector play a greater role in the vaccination programme going forward and have made that clear to the Department of Health and Social Care and NHSE&I”.

However, it understands that the main push for the moment will remain with hospital and primary care network managed sites, the negotiator told C+D.

“Up to half a million vaccines a week”

Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the Company Chemists’ Association said  in a statement last week (December 30) that, “given that the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine requires similar storage to several other vaccines already provided by community pharmacies, our teams are well placed to administer it.

“We estimate that community pharmacies could administer up to half a million COVID-19 vaccines a week,” he added.

22 Comments
Question: 
Will your pharmacy offer the COVID-19 vaccination service?

Oliver Staunton, Information Technology

You can find the LES with a simple Google search: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/urgent-preparing-for-community-pharmacy-to-contribute-to-a-potential-covid-19-vaccination-programme-annex-a-indicative-local-enhanced-service-agreement-covid-19-vaccination-programme-2020-21/

It states that the reimbursement is just over £12 per vaccination. The £8m is separate to and on top of that funding.

Oliver Staunton, Information Technology

You can also find the qualifying pharmacy criteria at https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/urgent-preparing-for-community-pharmacy-to-contribute-to-a-potential-covid-19-vaccination-programme-annex-b-community-pharmacy-site-designation-process/

Pharmacy needs to be able to store 1000 vaccines at a time, and be able to administer 1000 vaccines per week, and be open every day from at least 8am to 8pm.

Kamran Sarwar, Community pharmacist

Well said Kevin, i agree 100%.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

I wonder if employees and locums would be happy with all this extra work for zero remuneration ? Genuinely curious.

 

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Remuneration is up to you...but as a minimum..how long do you feel like being locked down? I'd rather get back to a life thank you very much

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I was reading the letter linked in the article, Annex A says:

We have made available £8m for distribution to community pharmacy contractors (on
the NHS England and NHS Improvement pharmaceutical list), to cover reasonable
additional costs (over and above the usual fee structures) associated with the
COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.
Pharmacy contractors will need to seek pre-authorisation from their NHS England
and NHS Improvement Regional Team before the contractor commits to any
spending. A pre-approval code number will be provided, and this must be used when
submitting their claim through the NHS BSA Manage Your Service platform. Invoices
or evidence of spend should also be retained.
Funding will be restricted to contributions towards:
• Costs of additional venue hire and associated costs where it is not
possible to use the pharmacy premises, or NHS vacant space. Restrictions
apply, including on rental costs, landlords, lease periods and dilapidation.
Agreements must not be undertaken until the specific spend and location has
been approved.
• Costs of increased electricity bills and secure storage of the vaccine for
non-NHS sites where agreed.
• Specific and reasonable security costs advised by local police and
attributable directly to the programme can be funded.
• Changes to existing premises may be required in a small number of cases.
Any such proposed changes will be assessed on a case by case basis, and
any funding must be approved by Regional Teams strictly in advance of any
expenditure being committed.
• Additional items for example equipment that has not been specified for
central provision and cannot be supplied by the Regional Team.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

That's up to you to negotiate isn't it

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

I'm sure there'll be a stampede from loums/employees banging down Hancock's door...

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Errr... You could speak to your employer rather than bothering Mr H.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Calm down. I understand your precious Mr H is very busy successfully handling and guiding us through this pandemic. I actually meant the stampede to ask for Pharmacists to vaccinate. I'm sure you'll be at the front John.

 

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

No you didn't! You were clearly responding to Kevin W's "negotiate" comment. Deflection?

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

If you insist. I'll be side by side with you in the stampede John....

Farhat Ahmed, Locum pharmacist

This messgae is aimed at Grace, or anybody else that might be able to share figures, how many pharmacies have actually been sanctioned to provide the vaccination and why is there not another prcurement proces in place for the Oxford vaccine?

Grace Lewis, Editorial

Hi Farhat,

It's a question we keep putting to NHS England, but they are seemingly reluctant to share that information. We'll keep pestering.

Grace, C+D

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I'm also curious if a list of "Designated Sites" is available. It would be a great tool for referring patients interested in taking the vaccine.

Paul Guest, Manager

You are not supposed to refer anyone - eligible patients will receive details directly by post including information on how to book. Please don't tell anyone to just turn up to a busy vaccination centre.

 

TC PA, Community pharmacist

Why would you be referring patients to them? It's not a walk in service and you can't phone and book.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

some will, some wont but across Pharmacy its probably doable , and even if we only get near it, its a significant chunk of the target...

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

"“We are disappointed that despite pharmacy issuing a record number of seasonal flu vaccinations this year and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine being similar to handle as the seasonal flu vaccine, our community pharmacies, which are conveniently placed to support the rest of the NHS in delivering this historic vaccination programme at scale nationally, are not being engaged already now as part of the solution," "

Leyla, C&D arent the people you need to be telling this to... it should be headline news on every paper and high up the programme on TV. There is huge appetite for finding fault with the govt approach... there will never be a better time to punish them for ignoring us...I for one am sick of the "dont rock the boat" mentality which seems to rule Pharmacy representation.... maybe you are all too comfortably paid to see the need.

They want to issue 2 million per week... there are 10000  pharmacies, if they averaged 100/week or 20/day thats 1 million... why are they hesitating? the reasons need to be exposed and punished.

Hi Kevin, Yes, agree with you and Leyla has given that message to the Daily Mail today and it is published in one of their lead articles.

Getting Shorter, Community pharmacist

"They want to issue 2 million per week... there are 10000  pharmacies, if they averaged 100/week or 20/day thats 1 million... why are they hesitating?"

 

Lovely if you've got the time/space/staff to do an extra 20 jabs a day... crack on... sadly not all of us have, by any means. You can expose and punish that, but it's the same old same old I'm afraid - years of chronic underfunding leading to little or no capacity to (fully/safely/completely) deliver new services alongside dealing (fully/safely/completely) with the current workloads.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

20 jabs a day. Easy peasy. I'm sure your pharmacists will be begging to get involved to use up those spare hours they have. Plus the added bonus of no share of the revenue. Sounds like a winner. 

 

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