The NHS community pharmacy COVID-19 lateral flow device distribution service will allow asymptomatic patients to collect testing kits free of charge directly from their local pharmacy, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced this afternoon (March 29).
Patients will collect the lateral flow device kit and self-administer away from the pharmacy, PSNC stressed. “The pharmacy is not involved in the generation of test results, supporting the reporting of results or the next steps for the person taking the test,” it explained.
The advanced service has been added to the five-year pharmacy contract for England, but it is funded by NHS Test and Trace, PSNC confirmed to C+D.
Pharmacies that wish to sign up to the new advanced service by 23.59 on April 18 will receive a £200 plus VAT “early sign-up fee”.
Contractors will then receive a one-off set-up fee of £250 to cover the costs of creating a new standard operating procedure, training staff and storage of the test kits ordered free of charge from wholesalers, PSNC explained.
A service fee of £1.50 plus an allowance for VAT will be paid per transaction*.
Promotion after Easter
The service – which is part of the NHS Test and Trace offering to the public – has been developed “at pace”, and PSNC did want to give contractors more advance notice of the new service, it said.
NHS Test and Trace, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) “recognise that this time of year is very busy for pharmacy contractors and their teams, and as such it is unlikely that they will have time to consider offering the service until after Easter”, PSNC added.
Therefore, while service goes “live” today, public promotion will not commence until after Easter.
“This new service is designed to be easy for contractors to implement and provide, with the day-to-day transactions being managed by the pharmacy’s counter team,” PSNC director of NHS Services Alastair Buxton said. “Contractors wishing to provide the service can do so once they have had time to undertake the necessary preparations.”
“PSNC believes this service will be another demonstration of how community pharmacy has constantly stepped forward to support patients, the public and the nation during the pandemic,” Mr Buxton added.
Pharmacies trusted in their communities
Explaining the government's decision to commission this pharmacy distribution service, PSNC explained: “NHS Test and Trace research into routine mass testing shows participants prefer to access testing in the community, pharmacists are trusted by their local communities and unfamiliar new points of access are less well trusted.”
Commenting on the launch of the new service, Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Dr Leyla Hannbeck said: “We have been very clear from the outset of the pandemic that pharmacy is the correct place for a professional testing service to be managed and have been lobbying to that effect.
“Our members are very happy to participate in this service and be the natural and local place for the communities they serve to seek professional services such as this, along with advice and reassurance.”
Contractors can sign up to provide the service by signing the declaration on the NHS Business Services Authority’s Manage Your Service (MYS) portal.
*This article was amended on April 12 to clarify the £1.50 service fee is per transaction, not per test kit distributed.