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Multiples follow 'no stockpiling' advice as no-deal Brexit risk grows

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DH: The advice to community pharmacists is not going to change
DH: The advice to community pharmacists is not going to change

Lloydspharmacy and Well have told C+D they are continuing to follow official advice on Brexit, as the government repeats its warning for pharmacies not to stockpile medicines.

Prime Minister Theresa May failed to get parliament to back her deal for Brexit last week (December 11), prompting the government to implement its emergency no-deal Brexit contingency plans.

The government intends to hold another vote the week of January 14.

Despite health secretary Matt Hancock warning earlier this month that medicines supply could be delayed by up to six months in a “worst-case…no-deal scenario”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has stressed that its advice on stockpiling remains the same, it told C+D yesterday (December 20).

Mr Hancock wrote to all frontline healthcare providers in August to advise them on what to do in the case of the UK and EU failing to secure a deal before March.

He warned community pharmacies, as well as hospitals and GPs, not to stockpile any medicines ahead of Brexit, and said “there is also no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions”.

However, “pharmaceutical companies should ensure they have an additional six weeks' supply of medicines in the UK on top of their own normal stock levels”, and pharmaceutical companies should “ensure they have plans in place to air freight” short-shelf-life products whose import routes through the EU may be affected, he said at the time.

On December 7, Mr Hancock again wrote to healthcare providers to update them on the DH’s progress – including its arrangements for the air freight of short-shelf-life medicines – and once again stressed that healthcare providers and patients should not stockpile.

How are the multiples preparing for a no deal?

Lloydspharmacy told C+D it has been following guidance set out by the health secretary and stressed that its “priority remains to ensure that patients receive the right medicines in the right place at the right time”.

“Regardless of the outcome of the parliamentary debate and vote on Brexit, we will work with the NHS and other partners to ensure that patients are not negatively impacted,” it said.

Well Pharmacy’s superintendent Janice Perkins told C+D the multiple has also been following government guidance.

“I have been involved in discussions about Brexit with the government and trade associations, including the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), to ensure that we have all the latest information.

“Once we know the outcomes of the Brexit negotiation, we will then brief all our colleagues on the next steps,” she said.

When asked by C+D how Boots is preparing for a no-deal Brexit, the mutliple's parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance said it “will not speculate on the possible impact of Brexit”.

“As the terms and conditions of Brexit are still being negotiated by the UK government and the EU, it is currently not possible to know the actual extent of the impact that any changes will bring.”

What does PSNC advise?

PSNC told C+D it continues to discuss contingency plans with the DH, and host meetings via its Brexit forum – a group of representative bodies from the sector and the supply chain set up “to identify issues and concerns that Brexit may present”.

“Our biggest concern is to ensure that pharmacies and the patients they serve can continue to access the medicines they need, when they need them,” PSNC said.

“For now, the advice to pharmacies remains the same, as per [Mr Hancock’s] letter.”

UPDATE: Monday, December 24

Further advice from the Department of Health and Social Care (DH)

The DH has published its ‘EU Exit operational readiness guidance’ for all health and social care providers.

The key messages for community pharmacies, according to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC):

  • Community pharmacies do not need to take any action themselves regarding the medicines or clinical consumables supply at this time
  • When asked, pharmacists and their teams should reassure patients that plans are in place to maintain continuity of supply of medicines and medical devices
  • Work is underway with representative bodies, however, community pharmacies are asked to consider the impact of possible disruption to the supply of non-clinical goods and services and to understand the risks to activity if there is disruption in supply
  • Pharmacies are asked to ensure that staff are aware of the EU Settlement Scheme for health and care staff who are EU nationals and actively support them to apply. The scheme will then open fully in March 2019 and remain open until at least the end of 2020, so there will be plenty of time for EU staff to register
  • Note that the current arrangements for reciprocal healthcare and for overseas visitors and migrant cost recovery will continue to operate until March 29, 2019. Any changes to charging policies will be communicated to contractors, following the outcome of negotiations relating to reciprocal healthcare.

Source: PSNC, December 21

5 Comments
Question: 
How is your pharmacy preparing for Brexit?

Define Offensive, Primary care pharmacist

It's gonna be catastrophe no matter what. DH has just no clue what they are about to face or dealing with. Get out of community sector while you still can, or face the wrath of the public shouting at you for not haivng anything in stock

Marc Borson, Community pharmacist

We are being steered in to a public health crisis like no other. By the very people who oversee public health.

max falconer, Superintendent Pharmacist

So what exactly is a ‘business continuity plan’ if we are not allowed to plan for the future?!?!?! 

Keith McElrea, Pharmaceutical Adviser

They don’t need to, they are owned by the wholesalers who can prioritise stock for them when it goes short.  But then we’re told they don’t do that..

Dave Downham, Manager

Well they would do, wouldn't they?

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