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NHS England: Pharmacies must open on early May bank holiday

Pharmacies must open for three hours on the early May bank holiday
Pharmacies must open for three hours on the early May bank holiday

Community pharmacies in England must open on May 8, despite it being a bank holiday, NHS England and NHS Improvement has stipulated.

Pharmacies must be open for three hours – between 2pm and 5pm – on Friday, May 8, which is a bank holiday. Any exceptions need to be “agreed in advance” with NHS regional teams”, NHS England and NHS Improvement said in its COVID-19 primary care bulletin last week (April 24).

The decision comes after the “positive impact” pharmacies opening over the Easter weekend had on “the wider health and social care system”, the bulletin said.

“We know demand is variable across the country and with more notice local primary care capacity could have been better matched in some areas,” NHS England and NHS Improvement said in reference to the Easter bank holiday.

Planned bank holiday cover in community pharmacies is to “proceed unless otherwise agreed with [NHS England and NHS Improvement] regional team,” the bulletin stated.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it will “be pressing for funding to cover the additional costs” that extra opening hours “at short notice and on a bank holiday” will bring for contractors.

A formal announcement with further details as agreed by health secretary Matt Hancock is due to be issued by NHS England and NHS Improvement early this week.

Requirements in Scotland

Pharmacies in Scotland have also been requested to open on “either both or one of the scheduled May public holidays”, and will receive £1,200 for a full day opening or £700 for a half day opening, according to a letter from Scotland's chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr.

he letter was sent to contractors later week (April 24), and asked that pharmacies “provide a full range of pharmaceutical care service” on the bank holidays.

Do you agree with the requirement to open on the early May bank holiday?

Peed Off Superintendent, Superintendent Pharmacist

Simple should deduct £5 for electricity and then split the £750 between all staff that work for the 3 hrs.....they are the ones having their bank holiday disrupted and incidentally risking their lives. If the contractor works alone then he/she can have it all.

david williams, Community pharmacist

I am not against opening, these are difficult times. However, I would like to see the legal basis for "must open". Speaking as a Welsh contractor, this conservative government does nothing to make disliking them easy. Glad to have a more left wing regime in Wales, with a better understanding of decency and value. They asked us "if we could open". A more more reasonable approach. You would think, with Boris's recent experiednce, he may have revalued "all" healthcare workers better. There again, most politician's have a memory like Dorian.

A Long Serving Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

This is pointless. I worked for 3 hours on Easter Monday and hardly saw anyone. There is sufficient provision in the current set up to provide pharmacy cover every bank holiday already. If they mean we should be there in case someone thinks they have 'the virus' they shouldn't be out of their homes anyway.  For a significant number of people every day is a bank holiday at the moment, so they should be able to get their pharmacy medicines etc on those days. The pharmacy staff need a break too. It is not necessary to open unless you normally do. 

How High?, Community pharmacist

After the refusal to include pharmacy teams in the life assurance "assurance for NHS staff" perhaps we should tell them to jog on.

"Sorry mate, couldn't open, all staff self isolating. Jog on"

Conor M, Community pharmacist

I worked the last bank holiday, 3 hours on normal pay. Totally pointless, could count the number of patients that turned up on my hand!

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Normal pay. Then you were exploited. 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Exploitation goes with his job title! Don't you remember the crappy jobs you were given on yours (unless you are one of the now pampered generation - not sure how long you've been qualified). I had to clean out cellars, toilets, hump computer equipment round, decommission computer equipment from stores we'd taken over, handle all the old (and bloody dangerous - sodium cyanide, antimony, lead subacetate, that sort of thing) chemicals from stores we'd taken over - I could go on, but it was that fabled thing - building character. I actually think it was the best preparation I could have had for what pharmacy has become - how to handle excrement (and yes, I also had to do that a couple of times on my pre-reg from dogs with poor bowel control)

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

Ah, I have a nice long weekend. So glad I'm out the sector.

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

Same here. Wouldn't ever look back at community. So glad I'm out.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Rub it in boys, rub it in.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It is a stupid idea to open. People should be for the most part have a huge amount of spare time with the lockdown. Every day is bank holiday essentially. 

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Can we refuse to dispense any prescription not written on the day?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Sadly not but it's not a bad thought!

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

A few years ago, I was speaking to the Director of Public health formy area, in relation to distribution of Tamiflu during the bird flu crisis. His view was " People can't expect it to be on their doorstep, they'll have to travel" - Why is this any different?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

The swine flu 'crisis' was a joke anyway. Less people died than normal and the figures were totally skewed by the 'worried well' going online to get a supply of tamiflu just in case.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

That wasn't my point


Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

No I know, it's that there is little difference between covid and swine flu in terms of likelihood of catching it, but covid seems to be a little more serious in nature, which is my point.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I would love to see the evidence you are basing that statement on.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Which bit of the statement? Most of the evidence is of the 'bleeding obvious' category. Less people died of flu during the swine flu season than a normal flu season, certainly less that have died and will die of coronavirus, flu and covid both have similar methods of transmission, therefore...........

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

This is so pointless. What difference is three hours going to make? Supermarket pharmacies will be open as normal for the bank holidays so it's not as if there will be no pharmacy cover at all. Yes I agree some rural communities may be disadvantaged but it's only the same as a sunday and strangely enough, the world does not curl up and die every sunday.

Mahesh shah, Pharmacist Director

Relevant if it stops someone going to A&E or prevents a home visit by the GP.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

So you'll be working will you, Mr Shah? Or booking a locum for a nice long weekend. No malice intended. Just curious!

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

The silence is deafening!! 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

If they were likely to become critically unwell in one day, chances are they would need a hospital.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

And another thing......why should my definite risk taking by being in front line pharmacy for three hours be seen as somehow less important than the potential risk of a GP making a brief home visit to someone who probably doesn't have covid anyway?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

And realistically, how are we going to do that? Oh and fat chance of getting a home visit from a GP on a bank holiday! As I say, the world has not died of coronavirus for the last several sundays when pharmacies have been closed so I don't think three hours on a friday is going to make a major difference

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