The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has been seeking urgent guidance from Government on whether the its Covid-19 advice on the of staff and exposed patients in health and social care settings applies to community pharmacy staff.
PSNC has urged for clarification from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as to whether pharmacy team members with no symptoms would still need to self-isolate for two weeks.
The pharmacy negotiator is also seeking clarity on if pharmacy staff eligible for a coronavirus test could return to work earlier, if they tested negative.
Earlier, according to the government Covid-19 advice, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace teams and will need to share information about their recent interactions.
The new guidance states that those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19 must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.
However, the guidance does not provide any information on whether there are different rules for healthcare workers including community pharmacy teams.
The PSNC is also looking at financial support for pharmacies that have to close temporarily if the whole pharmacy team has had to self-isolate.
PSNC Director of Operations Gordon Hockey said: “The potential implications of the NHS Test and Trace Service for pharmacies are significant, and we are working with DHSC and NHS officials pressing for urgent clarity on these matters. As soon as we have answers we will share them with LPCs (local pharmaceutical committees) and contractors.”
The new government guidance states that those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.
A close contact broadly means spending 15 minutes or more within two metres of an infected person, or a very close specified personal interaction for a shorter period of time. This includes skin to skin physical contact or travel in the same small vehicle, among others.
A pharmacy team member’s contacts with patients will not be close contacts if the appropriate mitigation has been used. This includes two meter social distancing, an appropriate perspex screen or the safe use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
A pharmacy team member’s contacts with other staff members are likely to be scrutinised by contact tracers to determine if they are close contacts.