FAQs – COVID-19

To help members find answers to common questions on operating in the COVID-19 Pandemic the NPA has put together FAQs which will be updated daily.

Last updated 18.06.2020

Choose from the following categories to find answers:

1.   Insurance and Indemnity cover

8.   Professional and regulatory guidance

2.   Vulnerable/At risk groups

9.   Delivery drivers

3.   Stock, repacking and medicines

10.  Pets and COVID-19

4.   Supervised consumption

11.   Volunteering

5.   Protecting and managing your workforce

12.   COVID-19 testing

6.   Learning and Development (training courses)

13.   Hygiene measures and PPE

7.   Advising the public

14.   Employment advice

 

 

1: INSURANCE & INDEMNITY COVER

Will my NPA insurance cover me if pharmacy is to close?

  • If a policy holder with business interruption insurance receives an enforced instruction to close, our cover will respond. In addition, if the circumstances apply, NPAI will arrange a deep clean to enable policy holders to open their premises and recommence trading as quickly as possible.
  • For more information regarding circumstances for closure please speak to our professional indemnity insurance team.

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

 

What factors would initiate business interruption cover with NPAI?

The Business Interruption section of the Pharmacover policy will only become operative where there has been  “Closure of the whole or part of the premises by order of the relevant Public Authority”

If the policy is currently underwritten by Zurich Insurance, Zurich has confirmed they will accept a claim under the BI section of the policy. They will consider the cost of a deep clean on a case by case basis.

If policy cover is underwritten by NPA Insurance, we will identify and instruct contractors to carry out a deep clean which meets the standards and criteria required by PHE or the appropriate body. This approach is at odds with many of the major insurers in the market who have recently indicated that their Business Interruption policies will not respond to losses arising from a COVID-19 closure.

Applicable to policies underwritten by both NPA Insurance and Zurich

  • All reasonable steps must be taken to minimise the period the premises is closed.
  • Closure of a premises due to sickness/self-isolation/any other staff absence is not covered.

(correct as of 26.03.2020)

Will my professional indemnity insurance cover volunteers to deliver medication to the elderly and other patients who are self-isolating and cannot get to the pharmacy or obtain medication otherwise?

NPAI’s professional indemnity insurance will cover certain volunteers to deliver all classes of medicines and devices at the discretion of the responsible or superintendent pharmacist, subject to the following conditions;

  1. Volunteers must read and sign the pharmacy’s delivery SOP
  2. Volunteers must provide a valid DBS certificate

If the above gate is passed:

  1. Volunteers who are known to the patient only will be covered
  2. Volunteers who are known to the pharmacy only will be covered
  3. Volunteers who are known to the pharmacy and patient will be covered
  4. Volunteers who are not known to either patient or the pharmacy, e.g. those that are referred via an app or volunteer service, will only be covered if the responsible pharmacist or superintendent pharmacist have fully satisfied themselves that the volunteer is of good character. If they are not satisfied, the volunteer will not be covered and we will look to rely on the indemnity provided by the Coronavirus Act 2020, in the event of a situation which gives rise to a claim.

(Correct as of 07.04.2020)

Will my professional indemnity policy cover volunteers working in the pharmacy?

Your professional indemnity policy will cover volunteers undertaking non-medicine handling /non-advisory roles in the pharmacy only. This includes activities such as managing entry of patients to the pharmacy and cleaning.

(Correct as of 07.04.2020)

Will my professional indemnity insurance cover the pharmacy if other pharmacy staff are seconded to work in the pharmacy?

Yes, your professional indemnity policy will respond in such situations. However, if your staff are seconded to work in non-NPA member pharmacies they will not be covered and will need to ensure they are covered by the other pharmacy’s professional indemnity insurers.

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

Will my professional indemnity policy cover the pharmacy if we are required to take on retired or non-practicing pharmacists to carry out our employed pharmacists’ roles?

Yes, your professional indemnity policy will provide cover for you taking on competent retired or non-practicing pharmacists to work in the pharmacy.

(Correct as of 07.04.2020)

Will my professional indemnity policy cover me for breaking bulk in cases where I am unable to obtain original packs of painkillers e.g. paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen?

Yes, your professional indemnity policy will cover you for breaking bulk into the equivalent P packs as long as product information leaflets are supplied and labelling requirements are complied with. Guidance on labelling can found on our website or by contacting our Pharmacy Services Team.

(Correct as of 07.04.2020)

Will my professional indemnity insurance cover the pharmacy for the sale of products made up by the pharmacy as hand sanitizer replacements or for decanting readymade hand sanitisers into smaller packs for sale, in light of the nationwide hand sanitiser shortage?

No, unfortunately this is not something that will be covered.

(Correct as of 07.04.2020)

Will my professional indemnity insurance cover the pharmacy for the supply/sale of out of date drugs?

No, unfortunately this is not something that will be covered.

(Correct 23.03.2020)

Will my professional indemnity insurance cover the pharmacy for the sale or use of Covid-19 testing kits?

The sale/use of antigen testing kits is not something that is currently covered by NPA Insurance. However, NPA Insurance will cover the sale/use of antibody testing kits in the following circumstances:

  • The test must be CE marked;
  • The test must comply with the latest MHRA requirements, advice and guidance. For Point of Care and self-testing kits the current MHRA requirements, advice and guidance (dated 05/06/2020) are set out in Target Product Profile: antibody tests to help determine if people have recent infection to SARs-CoV-2: Version2 – GOV.UK (note this version may be subject to change);
  • Limitations of the test must be explained to the patient/customer and the patient/customer reminded of current government guidance with regards to tackling Covid-19, including, where necessary, maintaining social distancing and the use of PPE;
  • You must comply with any government guidelines with regards to the sharing of data

Neither the NPA nor NPA Insurance Ltd currently endorse or promote the sale or use of any one antibody testing kit above any other.

(Correct as of 11.06.2020)

Will my professional indemnity insurance cover the pharmacy for the supply/sale of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine or azithromycin to prevent/treat Covid-19?

NPA professional indemnity insurance will not cover sales or supplies of these medications for prevention/treatment of Covid-19 when supplied over the counter or dispensed against prescriptions.

(Correct as of 07.04.2020)

Will my professional indemnity policy cover me if I need to dispense MDS medication outside of an MDS due to staff shortages?

Yes, your professional indemnity policy will cover you in such circumstances.

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

How do I stand if one of my employees brings a claim against me alleging that he or she has contracted Covid-19 as a result of working for me?

  • If an employee brings a claim against his/her employer, then the compulsory Employers’ Liability insurance will respond and the insurer will then deal with the claim.  Issues in relation to breach of duty e.g. allegations that there was a failure to provide PPE and exposing employees to risk etc. and potential breaches of statutory duty would be investigated.  Each case will be dealt with on its own merits. (The best advice we can give in relation to keeping your employees safe is to follow PHE , NHS and GOV  guidance and adhere to that advice as best as you can).
  • In addition to proving that an employer has been in breach of their duty of care, an employee must also show that as a consequence of that breach of duty, the injury complained of, that is to say contracting Covid-19, was caused or materially contributed to by the employers fault.  This will not be an easy thing to do because it will be very difficult to establish whether the virus was contracted whilst at work, or elsewhere and outside the work environment.  Only then if causation is established will the issue of injury, loss and damage – the assessment and payment of compensation – be considered.

(Correct as of 06.04.2020)

Track and Trace App - what is the position if the pharmacy has to close due to one or more staff testing positive to Covid 19?

The Business Interruption section of the NPAI Pharmacover policy operates following  “Closure of the whole or part of the premises by order of the relevant Public Authority

If such an order has been issued we can identify and instruct contractors to carry out a deep clean which meets the standards and criteria required by PHE or appropriate body. Alternatively pharmacies are able to carry-out a deep clean themselves subject to use of appropriate cleaning materials and PPE.

Closure of a premises due to sickness/self-isolation/any other staff absence is not covered.

(Correct as of 28.05.2020)

2: VULNERABLE/ AT RISK GROUPS

What advice can we give to pregnant staff members?

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

What advice can we give to staff members, including pharmacists and delivery drivers, over 70?

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

What is shielding and how should these people protect themselves?

  • Shielding is a practice used to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus. Those that fall into this group, including those with specific cancers and severe respiratory conditions, must stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a minimum of 12 weeks.
  • Further guidance available from Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland and Public Health Agency NI

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

Can I sell paracetamol free of charge to vulnerable adults presenting to the pharmacy for a request?

  • This would be a business decision by the pharmacy. Pharmacies should still follow legislation set out by Human Medicines Regulation 2012 and guidance by the MHRA to limit the maximum amount purchased by one person to 100 tablets.
  • Guidance on who is classed as a vulnerable adult is available on the gov.uk website.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Can an employee who has diabetes (or anyone at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus) choose to carry on working?

According to the Guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people, people with an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus are advised to carry out social distancing. For England, the COVID-19 SOP for community pharmacy states that such staff should not see patients face-to-face.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

3: STOCK, REPACKAGING AND MEDICINES

Can we repackage a large pack of paracetamol (e.g., of over 100 tablets) into packs of 32 tablets and sell these OTC?

Please see our detailed guidance available from the NPA website

(Correct as of 07.05.2020)

Should we still be doing MDS/Should we be giving out original packs instead of putting medication into an MDS?

  • Your pharmacy may be struggling to continue to provide medicines to relevant patients in MDS trays. The critical element is that patients continue to receive their medicines as promptly as these extremely difficult circumstances permit, irrespective of whether it can be loaded into an MDS.
  • The Equality Act may potentially be breached, however the pragmatic approach is to ensure that patients receive their medicines rather than forego treatment.
  • The NPA will continue to support pharmacists when exercising their professional judgement when deciding if they can supply via MDS or dispensing medicines in their original packs.
  • Any actions out of your usual procedures made should be recorded, and communicated clearly to the patients, as well as carers and family members as applicable.

(Correct as of 07.05.2020)

Can I limit the amount of purchases on high demand items?

This will be a business decision undertaken by the pharmacy, however the NHS have advised that in general, excess purchasing or stockpiling of medicines can impact adversely on the supply chain and can result in shortages. It remains important therefore for pharmacies not to do this.

(Correct as of 07.05.2020)

What is the guidance for decanting hand sanitisers into smaller bottles? Is this allowed?

The NPA’s legal team has advised that member’s Professional Indemnity policy does not cover them for decanting readymade hand sanitisers into smaller packs for sale.

(Correct as of 07.05.2020)

What is the advice around OTC requests or prescriptions for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for preventing or treating COVID-19 infection?

Please follow the latest guidance from the NPA website.

(Correct as of 07.05.2020)

Is there any guidance on controlled drugs during the pandemic? Pharmacies are receiving prescriptions with more than 30 days supply- is this ok to supply?

  • Prescriptions should be issued for the usual length of time. Although it is good practice to only prescribe 30 days of controlled drug medication on prescriptions, if more than 30 days has been prescribed, pharmacists must use their professional judgement and check with the prescriber concerning the reason why the amount has been prescribed, before making the decision about whether to proceed with making the supply for more than 30 days’ treatment.
  • As advised with all medicines on PSNC; “Prescriptions will continue to cover the same length of time as usual.Practices should not change their repeat prescription durations or support patients trying to stockpile: these actions may put a strain on the supply chain and exacerbate any potential shortages.”
  • Dr Keith Ridge’s letter states “It is essential that GPs do not issue prescriptions for a longer duration, pharmacies do not order larger quantities, and patients and the public do not seek to stockpile medicines as this behaviour could put the supply chain at risk.”
  • In Scotland: A Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Controlled Drugs in Primary Care – Scotland: Summary Document for Community Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians advises prescriptions for CDs should be for no more than 30 days’ supply. In exceptional circumstances where the prescriber believes a supply of more than 30 days’ medication is clinically indicated, the prescriber should make a note of the reasons for this in the patient’s notes and be able to justify their decision if required. It is not illegal for a pharmacist to dispense a prescription for more than 30 days’ supply, but they must satisfy themselves as to the clinical appropriateness of the prescription before doing so. In Scotland, a pharmacist does not need to contact the prescriber each time they receive a prescription requesting a supply in excess of 30 days for a schedule 2 to 4 CD.  Pharmacists should exercise their professional judgement and assess both the prescription and the situation to check the suitability for the patient.

(Correct as of 07.05.2020)

Labelling requirements for hand sanitisers- as it is not classed as a medicinal product how do pharmacies label this?

  • PLEASE NOTE: NPA Professional Indemnity policy does not cover NPA members for activities related to decanting of readymade hand sanitisers into smaller packs, or making up their own hand sanitisers, for retail sale.
  • If you still feel you wish to do this and understand that your professional indemnity does not cover you, please follow the advice below:
  • Please see MHRA guidance on hand sanitisers. The MHRA have advised that it is best to contact the particular manufacturer themselves. Different products could be on the market under different classifications, so it is important to speak to the original manufacturer, and also confirm that the product is safe and stable in another container. Labelling requirements will include those for COSHH.

(Correct as of 07.05.2020)

When 32 or 16 packs of paracetamol come back into stock, can we still sell paracetamol that we have repackaged?

  • No; repackaging should not be carried out in the normal course of your business, or because of financial reasons only. OTC packs should be procured and supplied whenever available.
  • Please see guidance on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 07.05.2020)

4: SUPERVISED CONSUMPTION

Can I hand methadone/buprenorphine to a patient’s representative to deliver to the patient?

  • Where supplies of medicines such as methadone and buprenorphine are to be made to the patient’s representative, a letter of authorisation should be obtained from the patient, at each collection where possible, for their representative to collect on their behalf.
  • However, whether a letter of authorisation has been obtained or not, the patient should be contacted to confirm the supply to their representative.
  • Please see guidance on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 06.04.2020)

Can I get my delivery driver to deliver methadone/buprenorphine to a patient’s house (assuming the patient is on an instalment prescription)?

Please see guidance on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 06.04.2020)

How do we carry out the supervised consumption of medicines, including those in self-isolation?

  • Where the prescription is for a supervised instalment then it would only be possible to consider supplying to a third party on the prescriber’s instruction.
  • A record should be made of the conversation in either the PMR or the intervention book, or preferably both. This is because the instruction to supervise consumption is not a legal requirement.
  • A claim for payment to the Primary Care Organisation for supervision of consumption cannot be made on this occasion.
  • Please follow further guidance on the NPA website
  • Pharmacies in NI should refer to guidance to step down supervision

(Correct as of 01.04.2020)

5: PROTECTING AND MANAGING YOUR WORKFORCE

What is the definition of a ‘key worker’ once schools are closed? Will this include community pharmacy staff e.g. technicians and dispensers?

  • Key workers include those who work in health and social care, education and childcare, key public services, local and national government, food and other necessary goods, public safety and national security, transport and utilities, communication and financial services. This also includes children of parents who work in health and social care, which covers pharmacists and their support teams, as well those working in the health and social care supply chain such as producers and distributers of medicines.
  • A detailed list can be found on the government website

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

Are pharmacists increasing the rates of pay for locums?

This will be a business decision undertaken by the pharmacy.

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

What do we do if the pharmacist needs to self-isolate at short notice?

  • Arrange locum cover – where no locum cover can be secured at the pharmacy, and recognising the potential effects of the current pandemic, it would be in the patient’s best interest for medicines already dispensed to be supplied from the pharmacy rather than not supplied at all, even though this may not be in strict accordance with the law as normally understood.
  • The Responsible Pharmacist needs to be available remotely (i.e., by video call) to supervise the supply
  • Such an approach should only be adopted for a short time period, where other options have been exhausted.
  • Further guidance available on the GPhC website and PSNI website.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

In relation to the open flexibility hours, do pharmacies need to make their NHS England Area Team/NHSI aware of this?

  • The Covid-19 SOP for community pharmacy, states that;
  • If under significant pressure, at the discretion of the RP, pharmacies may close their doors to the public for up to 2.5 hours a day, including lunch (i.e., 2.5 hours in total)
  • Pharmacies should be open between 10am – 12pm and 2pm – 4pm as a minimum, and 100 hours pharmacies should be open from 10am – 12pm and 2pm – 6pm as a minimum (if these are contracted hours). Pharmacies must put a sign on the door with contact details in case patients require urgent help.
  • Please note this does not mean that the pharmacy only opens during these hours – it should open for its normal contracted hours except it is allowed to shut for 2.5 hours each day, but the 2.5 hours cannot be taken during the essential hours above
  • Any temporary closures over 2.5 hours must be reported to NHSE&I and the NHS 111 DoS profile and NHS website must be updated.
  • For Northern Ireland, please find contact numbers on the Health and Social Care Board

In Scotland Pharmacies can close to the public for one hour in the morning or afternoon, and at lunchtime, and in addition as required. Please check your local NHS Board pharmacy website for details of local contact recommendations, or here.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

How should I submit prescriptions in light of the increased volume of prescriptions presented in light of Covid-19? (England)

  • In the event that you have to close your pharmacy unexpectedly, it is more important than ever that you try to keep on top of your claiming processes. Not doing so could lead to significant cash flow problems.
  • It is recommended that prescriptions are claimed daily, ideally more than once a day. Mark prescriptions as claimed when patients have collected their medication and submit the prescription as soon as possible; send bulk submissions where possible, to help speed up the process.
  • If you haven’t already, then you may find benefit in signing up to Manage Your Service (MYS). MYS portal allows you to complete end of month claims online and can be done so remotely.
  • For Scotland – continue electronic claiming at point of dispensing as usual.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

RE funding: will we have some grace periods and retrospective price concessions if we dispense at a loss? (England)

  • We know that all community pharmacies are experiencing huge pressures at the moment. The PSNC is in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care regarding a range of issues affecting community pharmacies, including funding.
  • Any changes regarding funding in England will be published on the NPA website and the PSNC website.

Any changes regarding funding in any of the devolved nations will be published on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Am I allowed to employ someone for temporary cover that is not trained to be a medicines counter assistant/dispenser?

  • At the moment, the GPhC still require anyone undertaking dispensing activities/counter activities to be trained in/working towards an accredited qualification – this means anyone who is not enrolled in a training programme cannot dispense/give out dispensed meds/provide advice on P products
  • If you employ someone (either paid or volunteer) without prior training (and you do not plan to enrol them onto a course), you must ensure they undergo thorough training through SOPs – so they can help with:
    • Collecting prescriptions on behalf of those self-isolating/ from surgeries
    • Greeting patients and helping with non-medical queries
    • Informing patients about the pharmacy’s hygiene protocol and managing social distancing in the pharmacy
    • Helping with a robust cleaning protocol (e.g. wiping down services)
  • The NPA have produced training guides for non-healthcare staff on the NPA website
  • Speak to our NPA Professional Indemnity Insurance team for more advice

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Any guidance on how to deal with abusive patients at this time?

  • Please ensure your staff are aware of the following statement from the GPhC : “We are also hearing increasing numbers of reports that pharmacy staff are experiencing abuse, disorder and even violence at the hands of some of the members of the public they are trying to help.  Abuse of pharmacy staff is never acceptable. Pharmacy is a key part of the national response and its workforce are entitled to be treated with the same respect as other key healthcare professionals. This is an especially challenging time for the pharmacy profession and we condemn any abuse.”
  • The NHS Regulations 2013 (England) permits pharmacy teams to refuse to provide medicines or appliances if they are subjected to, or threatened with, violence by the patient or anyone accompanying the patient.
  • The NPA have created zero tolerance posters, available on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 26.03.2020)

A number of pharmacies have stopped letting patients into the pharmacy premises and serve patients from a ‘hatch’, is this acceptable from an NHS contract point of view?

  • In light of the current pandemic, and the exceptional circumstances that pharmacies are being faced with, it would seem acceptable to serve patients from a ‘hatch’. Any decision to do this, including reasons why, should be part of the business continuity plan. The pharmacy must consider the following points;
    • The pharmacy must be seen by the public to be open
    • If the doors are locked, a member of staff should be by the door/hatch so members of the public are aware that there are staff on the premises and that the pharmacy is open (using a doorbell to summon a response from a member of staff is not sufficient)
    • There must be appropriate levels of privacy for conversations with patients
    • Staff may need to invite the member of the public to enter the premises on a case-by-case basis, for example, to preserve the confidentiality of a discussion
  • For England, see further guidance under the approved particulars, under the Clinical Governance section of Schedule 4 of the NHS (Pharmaceutical services) Regulations 2012 terms of service.
  • For Scotland, see further guidance under The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

(Correct as of 06.04.2020)

With regards to the opening hour flexibility, do you have to be working from the premises, i.e., closed door working only (working on the premises but not open to the public)?

  • For England, yes; please see the NPA, PSNC, CCA and AIM joint statement on opening hours flexibility
    • NHSE&I has also stated that for temporary closures (not closed-door working), for instance where not enough staff are available to work, NHSE&I must be informed immediately.
  • For Scotland, NHS Pharmacy Leads have provided guidance on opening hours and closed door working policies for community pharmacies in their Board areas. Please check your local NHS pharmacy website for information and proforma on your proposed interim opening hours.

(Correct as of 09.04.2020)

How can we verify our status as key workers when travelling to work?

  • The GPhC and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society have published a letter, which requires a stamp by the pharmacy employer to verify your status as key NHS workers when travelling to and from work. The employee must also carry personal ID.
  • In Northern Ireland HSCB have drafted template letters which can be used by pharmacy teams to enable verify their identity as a Key Health and Social Care Worker.

 

(Correct as of 24.04.2020)

Can pharmacy staff park free of charge in council controlled car parks? How do I book the free parking?

England

  • The government have announced free temporary parking arrangements for healthcare and social care workers.
  • Staff must apply directly to their local council – you can find the local council website by typing in the pharmacy’s postcode at https://www.gov.uk/parking-permit.
  • These are fixed-term arrangements that will last for no more than three months from the date of approval. If Central Government issues a directive that the COVID–19 pandemic is over, the termination date of this arrangement will be 7 days after the announcement.

Scotland

  • Since 30th March the remaining three Scottish hospitals which have charged for private car parks now offer free parking for all NHS workers. Many Scottish local councils have also suspended parking fees for key workers, which pharmacy teams are classed as. This is following Government advice to avoid using public transport where possible and many public transport systems are reduced. Advice is to check locally with your council office how to access, if not clearly stated at the parking site.

Northern Ireland

  • Health and Social Care staff can claim reimbursement for car parking costs. Details are available through NI Direct

 

Wales

For details regarding passes that entitle NHS staff members to have free parking, visit GOV.WALES.

(Correct as of 24.04.2020)

6: LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT (TRAINING COURSES)

My pharmacy is struggling to cope with primary functions. How will the NPA be supporting members with active students?

The NPA realises that with the COVID-19 pandemic pharmacies will be struggling to cope with primary functions. Understandably, training will have to take a back seat until pharmacies are able to cope. The NPA has agreed with the GPhC and Pearson that coursework can be put on hold so that our members can focus on helping at the front line of the pandemic.

(Correct as of 28.05.2020)

Can I still enrol my student onto courses?

You can still enrol your student onto a course but please bear in mind that it may take us a little longer than usual to process your enrolment and for you to receive your paper course in the post/to receive your details for your login for an online course.

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

Can my student continue working on the course?

Yes, your student can continue working on the course. Whilst there may be delays with marking, self-isolation may provide them with time at home to continue their studies.

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

Will I/my student still be able to contact the NPA for help and support with their/my course?

You will still be able to contact us via telephone or email – we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as we can, but please allow for minor delays.

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

My student has completed their course when will they receive their certificate?

Certificates will be sent out via email. We will follow up with certificates in the post at the earliest possible opportunity for all level 2 courses.

(Correct as of 28.05.2020)

Can we postpone flu vaccination training until 2021 and get one more year exemption? (England)

  • There is no clear guidance on this at the moment. Currently, pharmacists providing the Flu Vaccination Service need to attend face-to-face training for both injection technique and basic life support (including administration of adrenaline) training at least every three years.
  • This means that a pharmacist who undertook face-to-face training for both injection technique and basic life support in 2017 would need to undertake face-to-face training in 2020 in order to continue to provide the service in 2020/21.
  • As the 2019/20 service finishes on 31 March 2020, and the 20/21 service is not expected to start until September 2020, there should not be any urgent need for pharmacists to undergo flu vaccination training at the moment.
  • If the COVID-19 pandemic continues beyond the next few months, it is possible that the PSNC will gain agreement from NHSE&I and the DHSC on further measures to help contractors, which may include relaxing the training requirements for flu vaccinations. Information on flu vaccination training requirements can be found here.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

For more course related related FAQs

Please refer to the NPA L&D COVID-19 FAQs for course specific information

(Correct as of 28.05.2020)

 

7: ADVISING THE PUBLIC

Where can I find resources to display in my pharmacy? Where should these be displayed?

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

Do I still need to submit patient safety incidents? How do I go submit reports to the Yellow Card Scheme? (England)

Please refer to guidance on the NPA website around patient safety incident reporting and yellow card reporting

(Correct as of 25.03.2020)

8: PROFESSIONAL & REGULATORY GUIDANCE

Where is the guidance for community pharmacists?

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

Can pharmacists stop FMD due to capacity issues?

You will not be covered if you stop this legislative directive.

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

Would a non-practising pharmacist be able to return without having to take a return to practice course?

  • A non-practising pharmacist is not required to take a return to practice course, but it is essential to ensure that the pharmacist is competent for the roles that they will be carrying out. Competent non-practicing pharmacists who are returning to work in member’s pharmacies will be covered under the member’s professional indemnity policy, but may also wish to arrange their own cover
  • Depending on the individual’s training needs, there are plenty of resources available to help pharmacists returning to work, including a wide range on the NPA website.
  • Additional sources of information and resources include the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education, Health Education and Improvement Wales and NHS Education for Scotland, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and GPhC website.
  • Guidance has also been provided by NICPLD for those returning to practice to support COVID response

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

What do we do about contractual requirements such as the DSP toolkit/health campaign activities etc.? (England)

  • Please see Dr Keith Ridge’s Letter:“We will not take contractual action against contractors who have not, by 31 March 2020, yet competed requirements associated with their community pharmacy patient questionnaire, updating their practice leaflet, completing their pharmacy clinical audit or competing the Data NHS England and NHS Improvement Security and Protection Toolkit self-assessment”
  • In Scotland please check Community Pharmacy Scotland Covid Hub for pharmacy advice on non-essential pharmacy service provision

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

Have GDPR requirements been relaxed during this crisis period - particularly when speaking to patients 2 metres away. We may not meet our usual data protection practices - will the ICO take regulatory action against us?

Please refer to the ICO website: “We understand that resources, whether they are finances or people, might be diverted away from usual compliance or information governance work. We won’t penalise organisations that we know need to prioritise other areas or adapt their usual approach during this extraordinary period”

Please consider the following to implement in your pharmacy:

  • Where possible, follow the advice from the Covid-19 SOP for community pharmacy, for England, and limit the number of people in the pharmacy.
  • The entrance to the pharmacy can be closed and a member of staff can manage the entry and exit to the pharmacy – allowing a ‘one in/one out’ system to minimise the number of customers in the pharmacy.
  • The staff member can also ensure that customers lining up outside are maintaining a 2m distance between them in the queue.
  • Use the posters from PHE and the NPA website to help implement this.

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

I want to employ a pharmacy professional who is on the temporary register. Is there any further advice on what I need to do?

  • For those in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales), please follow GPhC guidance; if you are a pharmacy owner or employer, when employing a pharmacy professional on the temporary register, you must make sure:
    • the person’s name appears on the temporary register
    • you carry out appropriate identity checks for all staff you employ
    • all staff have the right knowledge, skills and competence for their role and the tasks they carry out, including in relation to their English language skills
    • all staff have appropriate indemnity insurance for the tasks they carry out, including pharmacy professionals on the temporary register
    • all staff you employ are fit to practise in that particular role

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

What is the latest news on pharmacy funding?

You will find information about pharmacy funding in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

What financial measures are available to community pharmacy during COVID-19?

You will find information about pharmacy financial measures available to community pharmacy in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 05.05.20)

What changes are there to the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service? (England)

  • As per Keith Ridge’s 3rd letter; “we are advising patients to use NHS 111 online rather than phoning NHS 111 we have enabled referral to the CPCS via the online route for urgent medicines supply. From 24 March 2020 this is live in all areas of England. Patients being referred to the CPCS will be advised to telephone the pharmacy to access the service.”
  • The pharmacy is eligible to claim the fee for provision of the service, if providing a consultation by telephone.

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

What is being done about medicine shortages/ supply delays? (England)

  • The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is responsible for managing the medicines supply chain in the UK. The DHSC is in working with wholesalers regarding medicines shortages.
  • Pharmacies are being asked to ensure delivery tote boxes are being returned to their suppliers, so as not to affect the supply chain.
  • Pharmacies have also been asked to restrict quantities of soap, hand sanitisers, OTC medicines and formula milk.
  • For information about medicine shortages in Scotland please see the Community Pharmacy Scotland site.

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

Is there any guidance on making emergency supplies following requests from dentists?

Please see guidance on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

Is there any guidance on dealing with Controlled Drugs (CDs) during the pandemic – including the collection, supply, and emergency supplies of CDs?

(Correct as of 05.05.2020)

9: DELIVERY DRIVERS

What guidance is there for delivery drivers?

Guidance is available on the NPA website.

(Correct as of 25.03.2020)

Should deliver drivers wear masks/ PPE to safeguard themselves?

  • In general, it is not recommended that pharmacy staff need to wear facemasks to protect against the virus.
  • The SOP for community pharmacy states “PPE is only required for close patient contact, within 2 metres. Pharmacy staff are advised to avoid close patient contact at this time, where at all possible. Staff should assess any likely exposure and ensure PPE is worn that provides adequate protection against the risks associated with the task being undertaken.”
  • In Scotland, Health Protection Scotland advise that primary care consultations for acute respiratory infection require PPE.

(Correct as of 25.03.2020)

Are there any insurance companies that can offer temporary cover for medicine deliveries in private cars?

  • The Association of British Insurers following guidance from the FCA have advised the following in relation to private cars.

Support for those who use their cars to help their communities.

If you are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by COVID-19, your cover will not be affected. You do not need to contact your insurer to update or extend your cover.

Support to Key Workers

If your work is critical to the national response to Covid-19 and you need to use your own car to drive to different locations for work purposes because of the impact of Covid-19, your cover will not be affected. You do not need to contact your insurer or extend your cover.

These commitments apply to private cars insured on private car insurance policies only. This does not cover use for hire or reward purposes.

(Correct as of 26.03.2020)

How will payments be taken from patients from delivery drivers, if they are reluctant to handle cash (England – where applicable)?

Please consider the following measures:

  • Taking the payment from the patient via the telephone. There is an option on some card terminals, where the ‘card not present’ function may be selected and the card details can be taken over the phone for payment
  • If the patient receives 4 or more medicines at a time or more than 4 prescription items are likely to be dispensed in a space of three months – you may advise them to purchase a pre-payment certificate (PPC). Similarly a 12 month PPC would cover all their prescriptions within that period. You would then only need to take the PPC number over the phone, to enter on their PMR. The PPC may be purchased from the NHA Business Services Authority (BSA) website via this link: here.
  • If the delivery driver is to take cash payment, advise on wearing disposable gloves to put the cash into a sealed envelope/plastic wallet. Try to ask patients in advance to pay using the exact amount – however the driver may still need to take some change. The patient may be asked to put the cash in a plastic wallet/bag. The bag would have still be handled by the patient – so use disposable gloves and hand sanitiser.

(Correct as of 27.03.2020)

Can you post medication to a patient via a mail/courier service if they request it?

Posting medication is to be considered only in exceptional circumstances (Pharmacist’s decision). You must:

  • Obtain specific verbal or written consent from the patient for the item to be posted
  • Maintain a comprehensive audit trail
  • Confirm that the postal courier can deliver the specific pharmacy items
  • Take into consideration packaging and storage requirements:
    • Ensure the product will be stored at the correct temperature during transit
    • Package all Items appropriately in a padded envelope (or similar) and include a return address for the pharmacy

(Correct as of 09.04.2020)

How can we confirm if a patient is part of the ‘shielded’ population? (In England)

  • You can use the SCR record of a relevant patient, to find out if the patient is part of the shielded population – this is appropriate for when a patient asks a pharmacy to deliver a prescription to them and they tell the pharmacy staff that they are a shielded patient. An alert will be displayed when the record of a vulnerable patient is retrieved.
  • There may be cases where a patient has not been flagged on their SCR as being eligible. However, during the dispensing process, the prescribed items (e.g. immunosuppressant medication in the case of a patient who received a solid organ transplant, for example) indicate that the patient may fall within the eligible group of patients.
  • In these cases, the patient should be asked if they have been advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks, because they have received a letter from either the NHS, their GP or hospital. If so, such patients should be treated as eligible for the service. Where they have not received a GP letter about self-isolating, they should be referred back to their GP to discuss, and clarify if appropriate, their shielded status.
  • Please note that patients treated with methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis, for example, do not fall in the eligible group of shielded patients unless they have been identified as such by their GP/hospital consultant by virtue of their medical condition.
  • Please see more information on the PSNC website under Shielded Patient (Vulnerability) Flag

(Correct as of 09.04.2020)

In the rare circumstance that a signature is required, how do you maintain 2m distance between the volunteer and patient?

  • The safety of the volunteer and patient is of paramount importance so the best way is for the volunteer to sign on behalf of the patient (for example, signing a prescription on collection at the pharmacy). The pharmacy should agree on a process and follow this process, which should include communicating as necessary with patient.
  • If a signature is required for any particular reason, where possible ensure the patient uses their own pen and the voluntary driver is either using PPE (gloves need to be disposed of appropriately after the encounter) or is using hand sanitiser and is wiping the surface of the script.
  • The Scottish Government has agreed with NHS Practitioner and Counter Fraud Services that during this period there is no requirement for patients to sign paper forms or electronic signature pads. This is due to the potential mode of transition of COVID-19.

(Correct as of 09.04.2020)

10: PETS AND COVID-19

Can pets get COVID-19?

  • There has been a very small number of reports of pet animals testing positive for COVID-19:
    • A dog in Hong Kong was found to a have low-level infection which was likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission from its infected owner. The dog did not show any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease.
    • A cat in Belgium tested positive for COVID-19; its owner also tested positive for COVID-19, and the cat showed some clinical signs of the disease (including vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing and superficial breathing).  The cat recovered and, again, it is likely that the cat caught the infection from its owner.
  • Despite these cases, the risk of transfer from humans-to-animals is considered to be low. If pets start to display any signs of COVID-19, their owners should telephone their vet for advice.

(Correct as of 31.03.2020)

Can people catch COVID-19 from pets?

  • From the current, albeit limited, evidence available, risk of transfer of COVID-19 from animals-to-humans is considered to be low compared to the risk of human-to-human transmission. However, as with inanimate objects, animals may carry virus particles on them which could be transferred to humans that they come into contact with. Therefore, anyone coming into contact with an animal should wash their hands afterwards, and avoid being licked by the animal.

For further information, please see the GOV.UK advice for people with animals

(Correct as of 31.03.2020)

How should an owner look after their pet if they are self-isolating? Can a neighbour take their dog out for a walk?

  • If a person is self-isolating because they, or a member of their household, has COVID-19 symptoms, any pets at home could have virus particles on them. Therefore, ideally pets should be isolated at home with the owner and exercised in the garden.
  • Anyone in the household who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should avoid close contact with their pet as much as possible and adhere to good hygiene practices, such as hand washing before and after contact with their pet and after handling its belongings or its food and drinking bowls.
  • If a neighbour wishes to walk a dog for a self-isolating household, they must be advised of the risk of COVID-19, and follow good hygiene practices, including washing their hands.
  • For further information, please see the UK advice for people with animals

(Correct as of 31.03.2020)

Where can pet owners get further advice on how COVID-19 may affect their pet?

  • If an animal is ill, pet owners should contact their vet (by telephone) for advice. For more general information, pet owners can be directed to the RSPCA website.
  • For information on guide dogs, please refer to this link.
  • The Animal and Plant Health Agency have produced guidance/advice for veterinarians and their clients on pets and COVID-19

(Correct as of 31.03.2020)

11: VOLUNTEERING

How will volunteers being drafted by NHS England be able to help pharmacies?

(Correct as of 31.03.2020)

Where can I signpost those that want to join NHS Volunteer Responders in England?

  • Please signpost to the GoodSAM website. Please note volunteers must be 18 or over with no symptoms of coronavirus. N.B. due to a large influx of applications, recruitment is currently paused

Work is underway to ensure other parts of the UK have all the support.

(Correct as of 31.03.2020)

How do people in Scotland register to volunteer?

  • Ready Scotland.org is the main website for information on volunteering to support the COVID-19 situation
  • If you are a former health or social care employee or final year student, and you wish to sign up to work in those areas, access the Scottish Health & Social Care COVID-19 Accelerated Recruitment Portal.  This includes those wishing to work in community pharmacy.  Past experience, current competencies, area and hours available for work are all gathered on the registration form which will be collated by NHS Scotland. The process as to how those that register here will be offered work placements has still to be finalised. More information is available at nhs.scot
  • Volunteer Scotland provides support for those considering volunteering
  • To register to become a community reserve volunteer (18yrs and above only) with the Red Cross https://reserves.redcross.org.uk/

To sign up as a volunteer with specific Charities in Scotland register at https://search.volunteerscotland.net/coronavirus/

  • Ready Scotland.org is the main website for information on volunteering to support the COVID-19 situation
  • If you are a former health or social care employee or final year student, and you wish to sign up to work in those areas, access the Scottish Health & Social Care COVID-19 Accelerated Recruitment Portal.  This includes those wishing to work in community pharmacy.  Past experience, current competencies, area and hours available for work are all gathered on the registration form which will be collated by NHS Scotland. The process as to how those that register here will be offered work placements has still to be finalised. More information is available at nhs.scot
  • Volunteer Scotland provides support for those considering volunteering
  • To register to become a community reserve volunteer (18yrs and above only) with the Red Cross https://reserves.redcross.org.uk/

To sign up as a volunteer with specific Charities in Scotland register at https://search.volunteerscotland.net/coronavirus/

(Correct as of 31.03.2020)

Where can I signpost qualified pharmacists that want to volunteer?

  • If you are a qualified pharmacist working in another sector and you wish to re-join the NHS to help, you can find guidance on the returning clinicians section of the NHS England website.
  • All pharmacists/pharmacy technicians will have to complete a survey so that NHS England can determine how best to utilise your skillset.
  • If you are based in Wales or Northern Ireland, your details will be passed on to the relevant NHS body.
  • In Scotland, if you are a qualified pharmacist wishing to sign up to work again in any sector of pharmacy, access the Scottish Health & Social Care COVID-19 Accelerated Recruitment Portal

(Correct as of 31.03.2020)

12: COVID-19 TESTING

What would be the benefits of pharmacy teams being tested?

Why pharmacy teams should be tested:

  • To diagnose individuals who currently have the virus. Testing pharmacy front line workers will help end the uncertainty of whether staff need to stay at home or continue working in their community pharmacies. Those who test negative for coronavirus will be able to return to work – enhancing the capacity of the health service and social care to treat patients and care for those in community settings. Note that the effective individual must be tested each time they exhibit symptoms. It has been known that individuals have contracted Covid-19 more than once.
  • To understand how widespread the virus is. In doing so, health services can plan accordingly where extra demand is needed, for example, on intensive care units.

(Correct as of 02.04.2020)

Will my professional indemnity insurance cover the pharmacy for the sale or use of Covid-19 testing kits?

The sale/use of antigen testing kits is not something that is currently covered by NPA Insurance. However, NPA Insurance will cover the sale/use of antibody testing kits in the following circumstances:

  • The test must be CE marked;
  • The test must comply with the latest MHRA requirements, advice and guidance. For Point of Care and self-testing kits the current MHRA requirements, advice and guidance (dated 05/06/2020) are set out in Target Product Profile: antibody tests to help determine if people have recent infection to SARs-CoV-2: Version2 – GOV.UK (note this version may be subject to change);
  • Limitations of the test must be explained to the patient/customer and the patient/customer reminded of current government guidance with regards to tackling Covid-19, including, where necessary, maintaining social distancing and the use of PPE;
  • You must comply with any government guidelines with regards to the sharing of data

Neither the NPA nor NPA Insurance Ltd currently endorse or promote the sale or use of any one antibody testing kit above any other.

(Correct as of 11.06.2020)

What are the next steps for pharmacy staff after taking a test?

  • As advised by UK, the test will confirm whether you currently have coronavirus, so that you can:
  • take the right steps to take to look after yourself
  • protect others
  • know if you’re fit and well to return to your critical role
  • potentially reduce the amount of time you have to self-isolate for
  • Once you have taken the test, your sample will be analysed in a laboratory, and you will be informed of the result (positive, negative or inconclusive) by text and/or email. You will be given advice on any next steps that need to be taken following your result.
  • If your test result turns out to be negative, you can safely return to work, as long as:
  • you are well enough
  • you have not had a high temperature for 48 hours
  • anyone you live with also tests negative
  • If your test result is positive, or someone you live with tests positive, you cannot return to work. You’ll need to continue to self-isolate. Read NHS advice about how long to self-isolate.(I.e., you should self-isolate for 7 days from the day you show symptoms of coronavirus, and only need to keep self-isolating after 7 days if you still have a high temperature).
  • If your condition gets worse, or you do not get better after 7 days, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. Only call 111 if you cannot get help online. For a medical emergency dial 999.

(Correct as of 24.04.2020)

What are the different types of, and methods to undertake, Covid-19 testing?

There are two main types of COVID -19 tests:

  • Antigen tests: This will identify whether an individual, at the time of testing, has the virus. Therefore, it will indicate whether the individual needs to continue to self-isolate, return to work, or be re-tested. This test is also known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
  • Antibody tests: This will identify whether an individual has previously had the virus or not. However, at present the link between immunity and antibody levels has not been proven, and therefore, currently these tests do not guarantee a level of protection or immunity from getting the virus again. Social distancing measures still need to be followed.

 

Antigen and antibody tests can be undertaken in the following three ways:

  • Via a sampling kit: A sample is collected by either swabbing the nose and the throat, or by collecting saliva. Testing is self-administered or carried out by someone else. Samples can be taken at home, or at a mobile environment, such as a driver-though centre. The sample is then sent for analysis to designated labs to look for the presence of COVID-19 virus genetic material (the antigen). A positive result indicates the person has a current COVID-19 virus infection.
  • Via home testing: Testing is undertaken at home with results available to the individual to interpret themselves (like a home pregnancy test); please note that this is not the same as a sampling kit where the sample can also be taken at home. Currently there are no CE-marked home testing kits – the public are advised not to buy these as there is a risk of using a wrong test in a wrong setting, leading to inaccurate results, hence a false sense of protection/recovery, which in turn may increase pressure on the NHS and social care settings.
  • Via a laboratory or point-of-care testing: Antibody tests are undertaken through this method. Testing is carried out by a healthcare professional. This type of testing is not designed for home testing, as results need to be interpreted by a trained and qualified healthcare professional. These can be undertaken in a lab or mobile environment, where in the latter, the individual being tested may be present.

(Correct at the time of writing 27.05.20202)

Reference and further information

Who is eligible for the Government approved COVID-19 antibody test? (England)

The Government-approved COVID-19 antibody tests, which require a venous blood sample, is only currently available to NHS and social care workers, as well as patients in hospitals and social care settings through the Government’s national antibody testing programme which started at the end of May 2020 in England.

(Correct at the time of writing 27.05.2020)

Reference and further information:

Who is eligible for the Government approved COVID-19 antigen test?

Anyone over the age of 5 years, experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 can ask for a test through the NHS website, and priority testing is available to essential workers. This type of testing involves taking a swab from the back of the throat and nose and the result will tell whether the individual currently has the virus. The test must be done in the first five days of having symptoms; however, it is best to request for this test within the first three days as it may take one to two days to arrange it.

(Correct at the time of writing 26.05.2020)

Reference and further information:

13: HYGIENE MEASURES AND PPE

I have run out of PPE who do I contact to order more?

Please see the latest update on obtaining further PPE.

(Correct as of 30.04.2020)

Can I limit the number of people entering my pharmacy at a time?

  • Pharmacies can limit the amount of patients entering the pharmacy and also advise patients to keep a 2 metre distance from others and use a contactless payment method.
  • Further guidance available on the SOP for community pharmacy

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

A patient has attended my pharmacy with suspected coronavirus, what should I do?

A patient who presents with a possible COVID-19 infection should be told to return home immediately, self-isolate and access NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 (NHS24 in Scotland).  Further guidance is available on the SOP for community pharmacy and government website.

(Correct as of 23.03.2020)

Our pharmacy is small and we are unable to maintain 2 metres distance between staff.

  • If there is a shortage of space in the dispensary, staff should rearrange the dispensary where possible, for example moving non-essential drawers or shelving, to make more space. If there is still a shortage of space, staff should aim to keep as far away from each other as possible, while following rigorous hygiene procedures. These hygiene procedures can include (but are not limited to):
    • regularly cleaning surfaces and equipment in the dispensary and on the counter
    • washing hands regularly and wearing gloves when necessary
  • If any member of staff displays signs of COVID-19, they should be sent home immediately to reduce the risk for others; following PHE guidance
  • For England, please follow guidance from the Covid-19 SOP for community pharmacy,
  • For NI follow joint guidance issued by HSCB and DoH
  • For Wales, see guidance on https://gov.wales/taking-all-reasonable-measures-maintain-physical-distancing-workplace

(Correct as of 26.03.2020)

How should the pharmacy be cleaned during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • While pharmacies will already have regular cleaning processes in place, it is advisable to increase the frequency of cleaning during the pandemic. In particular, any surfaces that are likely to be touched throughout the day should be cleaned regularly – these will include counters, screens, chairs, door handles, tills, keyboards, computer mice, telephones, pens, light switches, fridge doors, drawer handles, and soap dispensers, as well as staff eating areas.
  • One way to help ensure that this gets carried out is to use a cleaning rota or matrix. The NPA cleaning matrix which can be locally adapted for use during this pandemic can be found here. Cleaning should be carried out using a detergent disinfectant, and disposable cloths wherever possible. It is important to keep adequate stocks of cleaning products, and ensure that there are enough waste bins; used cleaning cloths should be double-bagged and kept separate from other waste for at least 72 hours before placing in external waste bins.
  • The latest guidance on infection prevention and control can be found for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

(Correct as of 24.04.2020)

How do I ensure sufficient stocks of PPE to deliver services?

  • PPE is currently in short supply and may remain so for a considerable period of time, and so if relying on wholesalers for their supplies pharmacies should maintain their own appropriate buffer stocks.
  • Pharmacy usage of PPE may need to increase to deliver services such as flu vaccinations, and this should be taken into account when considering the pharmacy’s long-term need for PPE.

(Correct as of 22.05.2020)

Can I sell facemasks/PPE?

  • The NHS in England has made a small supply of masks available via full-line wholesalers and this is for community pharmacy use only.
  • Members of the public seeking to purchase masks from pharmacies should be alerted to the government guidance on face coverings.
  • Where there is sufficient stock available to purchase from wholesalers to consider supplying excess to health care organisations or the public, pharmacists have an ethical responsibility to consider how limited PPE stock can be best used to meet clinical need. It is likely that there will be external scrutiny of decisions made about supplying PPE.
  • There have been concerns about some PPE not being of the stated specification. It is advisable to carefully consider what claims, if any, are made about any products supplied.  Pharmacists are reminded that they have an ethical responsibility to source PPE from reputable suppliers.
  • Pharmacy can be a trusted place to access PPE if the above criteria are met.

(Correct as of 22.05.2020)

What is the advice for members of the public regarding face coverings?

How can the pharmacy order further stocks of PPE if you have run out?

Read the NPA update on obtaining further supplies of PPE here: https://www.npa.co.uk/news-and-events/news-item/update-on-obtaining-further-ppe-supplies/

(Correct as of 24.04.2020)

When do the pharmacy team need to wear personal protective equipment such as face masks?

  • Public Health England, Public Health Wales, Public Health Agency Northern Ireland and Health Protection Scotland, have issued UPDATED guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • The updated guidance states that where pharmacy teams are unable to maintain 2 metres social distance, in an area with possible or confirmed cases, it is recommended that pharmacy staff wear fluid-resistant (Type IIR) surgical masks face masks (FRSM). This should be worn for sessional use i.e., the period of time a member of staff is working in a specific environment until they leave that environment.
  • If social distancing of 2 metres is maintained, there is no indication for PPE in a pharmacy setting. Pharmacy staff should still be avoiding close patient contact wherever possible.
  • Further guidance on when and how to use PPE is available here. If PPE is required, it is important that it is used and disposed of correctly. Public Health England has produced posters that provide a quick-reference guide to putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) PPE.

(Correct as of 24.05.2020)

How should PPE be used (e.g. facemasks)?

If personal protective equipment (PPE) is used, it is important to use it correctly to prevent contamination.

  • Masks must be used in combination with hand hygiene and other preventative measures for them to be effective and must be worn and disposed of correctly.
  • Surgical masks should:
    • cover both nose and mouth
    • not be allowed to dangle around the neck after or between each use
    • not be touched once put on
    • be changed when they become moist or damaged
    • be worn once and then discarded – hand hygiene must be performed after disposal

N.B. This should be worn for sessional use, i.e., the period of time a member of staff is working and undertaking duties in a specific care setting or exposure environment. A session ends when the member of staff leaves that environment.

(Correct as of 24.05.2020)

Where can I find further information?

(Correct as of 24.05.2020)

14: EMPLOYMENT ADVICE

Your employee is too sick to attend work because they have contracted the coronavirus, what should I do?

  • Your usual sickness absence policy and procedure applies, including sick pay where relevant.
  • Absence must be recorded using the usual procedure.
  • Employers should consider relaxing their requirements in terms of evidence for absences in this respect. An isolation note can be obtained by employees via the NHS or 111 websites which can be accepted as evidence for these purposes – details here.
  •  You should also assess the risk that the employee has passed on the virus to colleagues and take appropriate steps. Consider contacting Public Health England (PHE) for further guidance.

Please visit https://www.npa.co.uk/businesspartners/elliswhittam for more information

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Your employee is not sick but cannot attend work as they need to take care of a sick relative or because a school has closed

  • Employees are permitted unpaid emergency time off to arrange care for dependants. It is time off to arrange care not to take care so usually limited to 24/48hrs, although this will depend on the circumstances. This is normally unpaid, but check any contractual entitlement to pay
  • If, say, more than 2 days absence is required and/or the reason for being off is to care for the child relative rather than making arrangements for their care, alternative arrangements are needed. The employee could:
  • Take annual leave
  • Consider whether there is any entitlement to parental or other types of leave
  • Work from home if feasible considering job type and caring responsibilities
  • Unpaid leave

Please visit https://www.npa.co.uk/businesspartners/elliswhittam for more information

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Your employee is not sick but refuses to come to work because of risk of infection

  • Speak directly with employee to understand concerns
  • If they are following advice regarding self-isolation as per below, treat as sick leave
  • Employee could be allowed to take annual leave
  • Employee could work from home if feasible
  • Employer could allow unpaid leave
  • Employer also permitted to insist on attendance if concerns unfounded but practically it will be difficult to get the employee to attend work – consideration could be given to whether this is a reasonable management instruction for which a failure to follow could result in disciplinary action, although care should be taken with this.

Please visit https://www.npa.co.uk/businesspartners/elliswhittam for more information.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Your employee is not sick but cannot travel to work due to restrictions on travel or public transport

  • Employee is not presenting as ready willing and able to work, so there is no requirement to pay normal salary
  • Employee could be allowed to take annual leave
  • Employee could work from home if feasible
  • In the absence of annual leave or working from home this would be unpaid leave
  • The situation will change if they are subsequently required to self-isolate or fall ill

Please visit https://www.npa.co.uk/businesspartners/elliswhittam for more information.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Your employee is not sick but has been advised to self-isolate by GP, medical professional or via 111 or is following the advice to self-isolate from Public Health England, Health Protection Scotland or Public Health Wales

  • They will be entitled to be treated as sick for statutory sick pay (SSP) purposes.
  • This also applies to “vulnerable adults” as defined in government guidance who decide to self-isolate following the guidance.
  • However, there is a potential argument that pregnant employees who decide to self-isolate following government guidance may be entitled to full pay while they are advised to do so.
  • Your usual sickness absence policy and procedure applies, which may include payment of contractual sick pay where relevant – check the contractual terms.
  • Absence must be recorded using usual procedure.
  • Employers should consider relaxing their requirements in terms of evidence for absences in this respect. An isolation note can be obtained by employees via the NHS or 111 websites which can be accepted as evidence for these purposes – details here.

Please visit https://www.npa.co.uk/businesspartners/elliswhittam for more information

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Your employee is not sick, but you require them to stay away from work for a period of time as a precautionary measure

  • As you have made the decision not to allow the employee to work, the employee is entitled to full pay, UNLESS:
    • You have a contractual right to lay the employee off without pay in these circumstances
    • The employee is instructed to work from home if feasible; or
    • The employee agrees to take annual leave
    • Please note that even if the employee does not agree to take annual leave, if you were requiring staff to take, say, two weeks’ leave, you can force them to do so from day eight of absence by serving notice to take holidays on the first day of absence.
  • If the employee falls ill or follows advice to self-isolate, they can be treated as sick

Please visit https://www.npa.co.uk/businesspartners/elliswhittam for more information.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

What are the current rules around SSP?

  • The government announced that the requirement to wait 3 days before receiving SSP would be scrapped
  • As of 11 March 2020, we have no further details in that regard, so this is NOT in force yet and the waiting days are still required. It is believed emergency legislation will be put before Parliament w/c 16.3.20
  • Current rate of SSP is £94.25 per week for anyone earning over £118 per week. That rate will increase to £95.85 from 6 April 2020.

Please visit https://www.npa.co.uk/businesspartners/elliswhittam for more information.

(Correct as of 24.03.2020)

Where can I find out about RIDDOR and the job retention scheme (furloughing)?

(Correct as of 09.04.2020)

 

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