Contractor Update: Pharmacies to be required to open on Good Friday and Easter Monday

03 Apr 2020

Yesterday (2 April) NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) informed the national pharmacy organisations that they expected that pharmacies would need to be open for at least some time on Good Friday and Easter Monday as part of the wider NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic. PSNC have been pressing NHSE&I for urgent confirmation on this matter so that pharmacies can meet any changed requirements.

PSNC have spoken again to NHSE&I today, and while they understand that the NHS are planning to send out communications on pharmacy Easter opening as soon as they can – and they are continuing to stress the urgency of this – and are very mindful of the pressures that front line pharmacies are under: this ambiguity is unhelpful.

From their latest conversations with NHSE&I it is now PSNC’s understanding that NHSE&I will treat Good Friday and Easter Monday as normal working days for their staff. GPs will be working ‘as usual’ and it is clear that NHSE&I will be requiring all community pharmacies to be open for a few hours (ie fewer than their usual opening hours) on both those days as well.

It is likely that this requirement for community pharmacies to open for a few hours on both Good Friday and Easter Monday will be made via a directive under the new Coronavirus legislation.

The understanding of the rationale for this decision is that NHSE&I expect COVID-19 infection to increase during the Easter weekend and hospitals may well look to discharge as many non-C-19 patients as possible into the community to free up capacity. As a result, community pharmacy services will be required at this crucial time.

PSNC has been clear to NHSE&I that any requirements for pharmacies to be open additional hours will need to be accompanied by fair funding, and they will begin discussions on that as soon as NHSE&I are able to confirm their intentions.