Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Photo: Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In a boost to Scottish community pharmacies, country’s government and Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) have joined hands to launch NHS community pharmacy delivery service.

The Scottish government will finance the new service with £5m cash injection for the period January to until the end of March 2021, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said announcing new scheme at a press conference on Monday (Jan 18).

The latest service is likely to start by the end of this month and will remain available for patients until the end of March. The scheme will also be reviewed again before its end date to determine whether it is required beyond then.

The community pharmacies who participate in the new service will receive a one off payment of £1,460 per contractor for initial set up costs and to recognise the workload associated with it which cannot be claimed electronically.

Commenting on the launch of the new service, Sturgeon said: “This new service comes at a pivotal moment in our response to the Covid 19 outbreak, helping to alleviate pressures on face-to-face dispensing in our fantastic network of community pharmacies. Our funding will help to provide home deliveries of vital medicines for the most vulnerable people in our society, preventing their exposure to the virus and keeping them safe during this difficult period.

“It is time-limited, initially until the end of March, and will be reviewed prior to this to determine whether it is required beyond this point. The circular outlines the inclusion criteria for the service and other operational details of the service which pharmacy teams should be aware of.”

The latest move by the Scottish government and the CPS follows steep rise Covid-19 cases across Scotland. “This would support these people to avoid any unnecessary journeys and stay safe at home as far as is possible, which has been important throughout the pandemic, but is acutely important at this time with the most recent evidence around the new Covid-19 variant,” the CPS said.

The scheme will also to reduce footfall into community pharmacies to help keep pharmacy teams safe and will further recognise the unique contribution of our teams to Scotland’s continued good health.

RPS responds to the new service

The Royal Pharmaceutical Service (RPS) has welcomed the announcement of the funded NHS medicines delivery service to support the most vulnerable in communities but called for pharmacists to continue to provide advice and expertise directly to patients who use the service.

Clare Morrison, RPS Director for Scotland, said: “This new delivery service is fantastic news for patients and underlines community pharmacy’s key role in supporting people through the Covid pandemic.

“For many people, having to go out during the Covid pandemic to get their medicines is a real concern. We are delighted to see this recognised and addressed by enabling all pharmacies in Scotland to provide a delivery service to patients who are shielding, self-isolating or at risk.

“Our one concern about delivery services in general is that they may make it more difficult for a patient to talk to their pharmacist about their medicines. Therefore we would urge all pharmacists to ensure they continue to provide patients with easy ways to access their expertise by providing telephone and Near Me video consultations.”

Scotland was under the toughest tier of restrictions from December 26 following a steep jump in Covid-19 cases across the country.

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