New guidance about maintaining the continuity of pharmacy services in the event of a crisis has been issued jointly by the National Pharmacy Association and the Company Chemists’ Association.
With the UK facing a second wave of coronavirus the two associations say they are helping members plan ahead for all eventualities from staff sickness to Covid-19 lockdown.
Providing Pharmaceutical Care in Crisis Situations updates guidance first published in the spring. It includes more details than the earlier guidance and there are versions for each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The guidance sets out the stages of a response to a crisis for individual pharmacies and for pharmacies working together. In some circumstances this could include the sharing of staff and stock, to maintain essential services.
It provides for a coordinated approach to dealing with significantly increased demand and reduced capacity that may be caused by national emergencies and local major incidents, including the impacts of COVID-19.
“These documents are a set of principles. They have been designed to help contractors think about the steps and actions they should consider taking in emergency situations, including in the current pandemic, to support the community pharmacy network to continue to provide pharmaceutical care to their local communities,” said CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison.
The guidance sets out five levels of response go from business as usual, through to protecting essential services by concentrating resources and co-ordinating temporary closures.
When a pharmacy can no longer safely provide pharmaceutical services to the public then it is expected that pharmacies within the local area will work together to pool resources of premises, people and products, in order to continue the provision of essential pharmaceutical services.