(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff)

A team of pioneering community pharmacists in South Tyneside have started administering Covid-19 vaccinations to housebound patients.

The joint effort by 22 community pharmacists who have given up their free time will see 1,500 housebound people vaccinated against the virus across four weekends.

Local general practice physicians have supported the initiative by providing the team with the list of patients who are registered as housebound.

The new service is fully integrated with the primary care network (PCN) vaccination site, utilising key NHS IT systems and the housebound patients are identified using GP practice lists and extracted lists are contacted by workers supporting the PCN site.

Vaccination information is being updated in real time using PharmOutcomes in the patients’ own home via a mobile device which links into GP systems to populate the patient record.

Mark Burdon, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s regional representative, said: “It’s great to have got this service up and running and to be able to help the national vaccination effort in a way that really supports our local GPs.

“While vaccinating housebound patients is a bit of a different challenge for many community pharmacy teams, it’s one that we are absolutely up for – the success we have had so far is yet more evidence that community pharmacies should not be overlooked as a key player Covid-19 vaccinations.”

Louise Lydon, chief officer of Gateshead and South Tyneside LPC and a practising pharmacist and contractor, said: “It’s a real team effort – the idea came out of our regular discussions with GPs, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Council. I’d like to thank all the pharmacists for everything they are doing, as they are so committed and keen to help.

“It’s been intense at times with a lot to work through, but it feels like an honour to be involved in something so life-changing. We’re really excited to be carrying out this work.”

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