Anticipating an increased demand for annual flu vaccinations due to Covid-19, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has advised pharmacy contractors to plan for several different scenarios as they prepare to deliver the service.

The pharmacy negotiator said it has started discussions with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) on potential changes due to Covid-19, including proposals to allow provision of the service within the pharmacy premises, but not within the consultation room and provision of the service off the pharmacy premises.

“Our proposals are still being considered by NHSE&I, but we believe it is important that pharmacy contractors think about and plan for several different scenarios which may be open to them this year,” the pharmacy negotiator has said.

In an early guidance for community pharmacy contractors and their teams on the 2020-21 seasonal influenza vaccination, PSNC said: “We have asked NHSE&I to seek clear guidance from PHE on the most appropriate PPE for use when vaccinating patients. NHSE&I has confirmed that a working group comprising NHSE&I, DHSC, and PHE is considering the matter and how to obtain sufficient PPE for the flu season to support contractors.

“At this time, we anticipate that the guidance will be to follow PHE’s general primary care guidance on use of PPE when providing direct patient care – possible or confirmed cases (within two metres). If this is the eventual guidance, it would require the use of disposable gloves, disposable plastic aprons, fluid-resistant face masks (FRSM) and eye or face protection.”

Contractors will need to consider the volume of PPE required to provide their planned volume of vaccines, including any non-NHS service.

With this year’s demand for vaccination likely to be high, and the risk that capacity could possibly be lower than normal, this is a good time to start doing some work to foster better partnership across primary care, the PSNC added.

It asked contractors to check with their local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) or their primary care network (PCN) lead to understand whether conversations are happening within their PCN to support a more joined-up approach to integrating the pharmacy service into local planning and messaging.

“The PCN lead role was only funded through the Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) up until the end of March 2020. Consequently, while community pharmacy PCN leads are still in role, if there is a need for PCN leads to support local work, LPCs should aim to discuss the opportunity for local funding with Clinical Commissioning Groups to support PCN Leads until the details of the 2020-21 PQS scheme are confirmed,” the PSNC said.

The number of flu vaccinations administered by community pharmacists under the NHS advanced service grew by 20 per cent in 2019-20 compared to the previous year, with 1,718,147 administrations being claimed to the end of March, according to the NHSBSA data.

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