mRNA Covid-19 Vaccines
A pharmacist prepares the Covid-19 inoculation at Regent Pharmacy in Northampton, Britain, October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has asked the government and the NHS to give more support to all community pharmacies as they gear up for “an extremely challenging winter period.”

During talks with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last week, PSNC highlighted that contractors are already under pressure because of workforce crisis, capacity issues and escalated staffing costs.

all these factors could pose a bigger challenge during the busy winter season, it said.

Though PSNC supported the government’s aim on booster vaccinations and approval of more pharmacy sites, it expressed concerns over the impact of the vaccination drive on all community pharmacies.

To ease the pressure on pharmacies, the negotiator has sought additional support through regulatory measures, the removal of administrative burdens and changes to the current Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS).

While recognizing that currently there are fewer pharmacy than GP-led vaccination sites, it said that such measures “would be in line with the support being given to general practice”.

PSNC vice chair and independent contractor Bharat Patel said: “Pharmacies have been there for local communities throughout the pandemic and this will continue – our doors remain open to anyone in need.

“But pressures on pharmacy teams are mounting, and we urgently need the NHS and government to take steps to relieve this to help us continue to do what we do best – helping every patient who walks through our doors, whatever they need.”

Expressing her support for the government’s booster campaign, Clare Kerr, head of Healthcare Policy & Strategy at McKesson UK and a member of PSNC’s Negotiating Team, said: “Many more pharmacies would be willing to help by becoming vaccination centres.

“But this combined effort by the health service will put yet more pressure on primary care. All pharmacies want to play their part in this mission – whether by vaccinating people or picking up displaced patients as GPs and others focus more of their resource onto the vaccination programme – but they need the backing and support of Government to reach their full potential to do so.”

PSNC survey

To gather more evidence, PSNC will launch a pharmacy pressures survey and Pharmacy Advice Audit in the coming weeks.

The two initiatives will provide evidence to back the negotiator’s argument with the government and help to demonstrate the urgent need for intervention to support pharmacies.

It will release more information about the survey in the coming days.

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