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Community pharmacies urgently need appropriate funding, additional training, timely support, and proper safety measures to execute mass vaccination programme against Covid-19 pandemic, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said in its submission to a joint select committee inquiry on Covid-19.

Stating its stand on the Covid-19 vaccination, RPS noted that the logistical arrangements, particularly managing the ‘cold chain’ for temperature-sensitive medicines and mass vaccination sites, could mean additional pressure on pharmacies.

“With pharmacy teams already under pressure, the impact on workforce will also need to be carefully managed, alongside appropriate funding, additional training requirements and timely information flows,” RPS said in the submission.

“Safety will be paramount, both for patients and for those administrating the vaccine. A mass vaccination programme also highlights the urgent need to invest in and enable ‘interoperability’, allowing pharmacists in all care settings to update a clinical record”.

The Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee are holding a joint inquiry into the lessons to be learned from the response to the coronavirus pandemic so far.

The RPS submission also covered topics including access to PPE and staff safety, risk assessments and the impact on BAME communities, the role of pharmacists in reducing health inequalities, Covid-19 testing and contact tracing and recognition of pharmacy profession.

“Pharmacists have gone above and beyond during Covid-19 to support patients and it’s vital we learn lessons for the future,” commented Claire Anderson, Chair, RPS England.

“As well as immediate priorities during the pandemic, such as staff safety and managing pressures on pharmacy teams, we also need to look ahead to how the NHS can make the most of pharmacists’ clinical skills.

“To support better care, we urgently need progress on interoperability of patient records, backed by appropriate investment. We’ve also seen a renewed emphasis on pharmacists being empowered to do the right thing for patients and hope that this continues.”

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