Updated COVID-19 SOP and Opening Hours Flexibility: Statement from PSNC, CCA, NPA and AIM
22 Mar 2020
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have today issued an updated Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for community pharmacies in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Critically, the SOP gives pharmacies some flexibility in the hours in which they need to open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Opening hours flexibility
• If under significant pressure, at the discretion of the responsible pharmacist, pharmacies may close their doors to the public for up to 2.5 hours a day, including lunch.
• Community pharmacies are expected to be open to the public between 10am-12 noon and 2pm-4pm as a minimum (if these are contracted core or supplementary hours).
• Similarly, 100 hours pharmacies should be open from 10am–12pm and 2pm–6pm as a minimum.
A sign on the door must give information about how to contact the pharmacy if urgent help is needed.
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. The pharmacy NHS 111 Directory of Services (DoS) profile must be updated, as must the NHS Website.
NHSE&I is encouraging cooperation between community pharmacies and GP practices in primary care networks, to deliver the best care, and protect and maximise the capabilities of staff across practices and pharmacies.
NHSE&I also encourages local pharmacies to work to maintain continuity of services in the event of temporary closures through ‘buddy’ arrangements, stating:
Particular thought should be given to patients receiving services such as supervised consumption or monitored dosage systems. Consideration can be given to providing daily doses rather than supervised consumption on an individual patient risk assessed basis.
The new guidance from NHSE&I is included in the pharmacy SOP updated today. Read the SOP
PSNC, CCA, NPA and AIM welcome the revised SOP and the flexibility that this gives to contractors.
The changes should help to ensure that pharmacies can stay open to the public, and that staff can work safely and are not fatigued by the current high workload and pressures associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Pharmacy contractors are encouraged to make use of the provisions to support their staff.
The pharmacy organisations are working together on detailed guidance for contractors to help them to implement this new SOP