The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has urged community pharmacy to plan and ensure patients are able to access their prescription if they have to close in an emergency situation for a short period.
It has prepared a guidance which can be undertaken by pharmacy in the event of a closure and the contractor’s business can resume easily and effectively once the emergency has passed.
In its guidance, PSNC has stated a few actions that can be taken by pharmacy in advance:
- Plan ahead – be ready before a closure is needed. Don’t wait until your pharmacy needs to be closed before you consider how you will manage and what you can put in place to mitigate the impact.
- Make sure your business continuity plan is up to date and relevant to the current situation. For example, try not to rely on family and friends as part of your plan; if you’re having to isolate because of infectious illness, your close contacts may need to do so as well.
- Ensure your SOPs are accurate, up to date and easy-to-find for someone completely unfamiliar with your pharmacy. Emergency numbers will be crucial. Normal, everyday business continuity issues are still going to arise and anyone on-site needs to know how to address them:
o Which wholesalers do you deal with? What time do orders have to be submitted by?
o What happens if there’s no internet connection or your phone line goes down?
o How do you contact your patient medication record (PMR) system supplier?
- Have an effective ‘buddying’ arrangement in place with one or more local pharmacies who can support your patients whilst your pharmacy is closed. If you don’t already have an established ‘buddy’ in place, you should speak with your Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) who may be able to link you up with another pharmacy in your area who could help. Make sure you’ve agreed with any ‘buddy’ pharmacy/pharmacies what they will be able to pick up for you and what areas you might have to give more thought to. Don’t assume they can do whatever you want without agreeing it with them first.
- Think through how your pharmacy would operate if neither the usual pharmacist nor usual staff could access the premises. You may struggle to get a locum at short notice or your pharmacy staff may not be able to continue working to show someone who is unfamiliar how your pharmacy operates. Is there a contact number you could leave on the premises for queries and questions? Have you got a handover file / diary that needs updating? The more you can do to be ready, the less the impact, and the easier an emergency closure will be to manage.
- Make sure all your pharmacists and staff have current, up to date Smartcards and that they don’t leave them in the pharmacy overnight. If they are unable to return to the pharmacy, this will at least mean they can use their Smartcard elsewhere if relevant permissions are added.
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