PSNC seeks urgent clarity on Christmas opening

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PSNC seeks urgent clarity on Christmas opening

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The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee is seeking urgent clarity from NHS England & Improvement on the opening requirements for pharmacies over the Christmas period.

In an update on the negotiating points currently being discussed with NHSE&I and the Government, the PSNC says: “Community pharmacy provision over the Christmas and New Year period must be clarified urgently, and requirements should be on the basis of estimated demand.”

The negotiator is also proposing that if pharmacies are required to open through a national directive over the Christmas period, they receive the same hourly fee of £250 as they did for opening on bank holidays in the spring.

Other action points on the negotiating list include:

  • Making asymptomatic Covid-19 testing available to all pharmacy staff; despite NHSE&I saying patient-facing pharmacy staff would be eligible to receive at-home testing kits, there have been no clear directions on how this is to be rolled out
  • A “flexible and understanding approach” to late submissions of payment claims
  • A national announcement allowing pharmacies to close their doors should they need to focus on assembling prescriptions, and another allowing them to focus exclusively on vaccinations (flu and/or coronavirus) for parts of the day. “Regional announcements on opening hours are helpful but not enough,” says the PSNC
  • Pushing back Pharmacy Quality Scheme requirements for six months.

Setting out its core negotiating principles, the PSNC says contractors need assurance they will be supported by NHSE&I and paid appropriately for their services, and that patient services such as the CPCS and the forthcoming Discharge Medicines Service should be prioritised.

Furthermore, the added workload associated with enhanced flu jab provision and any pandemic-related services such as coronavirus testing and vaccination should be recognised if pharmacies are enlisted to provide these services, says the PSNC.

On funding, the PSNC says it is awaiting HM Treasury’s response to the negotiator’s demand to write off £370m given to pharmacies as advanced funding earlier in the pandemic, as well as an uplift to the annual funding available through the five-year community pharmacy contract.

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