New plan for Health MOTs: National Pharmacy Association response

NHS England has announced that there will be ‘Health MOTs’ at NHS vaccination services, pharmacies and clinics this autumn

The NHS will offer a range of targeted tests including blood pressure, heart rhythm and cholesterol checks when people drop in for top-up Covid jabs or flu vaccinations. Further details are awaited. NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said: “We don’t yet have the details, but it makes sense for pharmacies to be part of any new initiatives to monitor heart health and cholesterol, given how accessible they are and their proven track record in preventative care. “It looks like a chance to identify underlying health problems which may have been missed during the coronavirus lockdown, and highlights the important role pharmacies will have in the nation’s post-pandemic reset. “We hope it’s not a one-off scheme limited to a select few pharmacies, but something that can be scaled to turbo-charge access to cardiac support through community pharmacy. “Given the magnificent contribution of pharmacies throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it’s natural that they should be seen as a solution in other areas of prevention and public health too.” The announcement was made by NHS England’s Chief Operating Officer, Amanda Pritchard, at the NHS Confederation conference this week.…

MPs debate pharmacy and the impact of Covid-19

MPs discussed the impact of Covid-19 on community pharmacy and funding arrangements for the sector, during a House of Commons debate this week (Thursday 11 March).

Led by the chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, the debate drew on the findings of the December 2020 All-Party Pharmacy Group Covid-19 Inquiry Report which showed that many pre-existing challenges had been amplified by the pandemic. Seventeen MPs took part in the debate, including Pharmacy Minister Jo Churchill and her Labour Party opposite, Alex Norris. Jackie Doyle-Price and several others argued for a more secure financial footing for the community pharmacy sector. “My challenge is for DHSC and the NHS to properly look at how they can make sure pharmacies get a fair deal,” she said. Several MPs cited an Ernst and Young report commissioned by the NPA in 2020, which predicted that the average pharmacy will be making an annual loss of £43k by 2024, under current arrangements. Jo Churchill acknowledged that pharmacy teams have “worked unbelievably hard for the past year” and said she is “aware of concerns that current funding isn’t enough”. She continued, “We are still in discussions with the PSNC about the reimbursement of Covid-19 costs incurred by community pharmacy and I can reassure the house that the government will take a pragmatic approach.” Mark Lyonette, NPA Chief Executive said: “The level of parliamentary support for community pharmacy is at an all-time high, which is testament to the heroics of pharmacy teams during the pandemic as well as determined advocacy by NPA members and others.…

NPA members take funding campaign to ministers’ own backyards

Pharmacists in the constituencies of Treasury Ministers and Health Ministers today warned the government not to backtrack on promises to cover Covid-19 costs.

They are displaying posters and distributing leaflets, which warn that funding cuts and Covid costs have taken many pharmacies to the brink of closure. Meanwhile, the NPA has placed adverts in local newspapers and influential political websites, highlighting the £370m-plus Covid costs which the government has so far refused to reimburse pharmacies – despite a clear promise from the Prime Minister. Jonathan Cooper, owner of Coopers Chemists in the Richmond constituency of Chancellor Rishi Sunak in Yorkshire, is joining the protests. He said: “My pharmacy and many others like it have continued to see patients in the community while other parts of the health system could not offer this vital service. Had community pharmacies not worked so hard to keep their doors open during this national crisis, things would have been far worse. As a result we have incurred massive extra costs and the government needs to cover this as promised. We want to give a message to Mr Sunak: our door is open – please let us keep it that way by reversing these devastating cuts!” National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette said: “The government continues to drag its feet over offering proper financial assistance for pharmacies, so this latest campaign initiative brings the matter close to home for the decision makers, in their own constituencies.…

NPA and Reed reach 100 pharmacy job placements milestone

The NPA and Reed have helped to get 100 young people job placements in pharmacy as part of the government’s Kickstart initiative to prevent long term unemployment. Hundreds of more placements are currently being processed. 

Under the scheme, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pays wages and employment costs for a six-month job placement, for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.  The NPA’s partnership with Reed enables independent pharmacies to take part in the initiative and provides training. Michael Samuel, who has a placement in Evans Pharmacy, Ty Elli in Llanelli, Wales, is the 100th Kickstarter to have started work in a pharmacy via by the NPA and Reed since the start of this year. The 19-year-old, who has never worked in pharmacy before, says he is “really enjoying the experience”. “Everyone is really nice and helpful. Pharmacy appealed to me – It’s a clean environment, there’s also lot of organising to be done, which I enjoy.” Michael has been busy helping serve customers over the counter and processing stock in the pharmacy. He adds: “Working here in the pharmacy has definitely made me think about it as a potential career. “Everyone comes here for a bit of hope. I feel good that I am helping the community in some way.” Mo Nazemi, the owner and Managing Director of Evans Pharmacy, Ty Elli has two Kickstarters in his pharmacy, including Michael. …

First day at work for NPA ‘Kickstarters’

The first young person to land a work placement in a community pharmacy, as part of a government scheme via the NPA and Reed, started their first shift this week.

With the help of the NPA and Reed, the recruitment company, Balvinder Singh Nijjar, Director of Faith Pharmacy in Manchester, applied to have a young ‘Kickstarter’ working in his pharmacy. Under the Kickstart scheme, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pays wages and employment costs for a six-month job placement, for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.  The NPA’s partnership with Reed enables independent pharmacies to take part in the initiative and provides training. Balvinder says: “We applied for the scheme to give somebody a chance so they could see what pharmacy was all about. “We have a senior member of staff helping her get familiar with the pharmacy. She can observe other staff and how they give advice over the counter and operate the till.  “If she can achieve the Medicine Counter Assistant certificate from the NPA, confidence in a workplace and some knowledge of dispensing it will put her onto a good start to carry on further.” Nicole Wilson, the Kickstarter who started her first day at Faith Pharmacy on Monday (8) says: “I like learning new skills as well as being able to give back (to health services and the community).…

National Pharmacy Association board member discusses youth jobs scheme with Chancellor

NPA board member and owner of Hollowood Chemists, Raj Patel, today joined a virtual discussion with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and young people participating in the government’s Kickstart employment scheme.

Raj was joined at the meeting by Kickstart recruit Ellen Tait who has been working in one of his pharmacies for the last three months. She is undertaking dispensing assistant and medicines counter assistant courses provided by the NPA as well helping in Hollowood’s COVID vaccination centres. Ellen described working in a pharmacy as “challenging and inspiring”. During the event, Rishi Sunak described his own experience working in a pharmacy (his mother’s) at a young age. Raj Patel highlighted that the scheme had helped his pharmacies cope with staff shortages owing to COVID isolations and increased workload, but pointed out that funding for the sector was inadequate overall. In November, the NPA began a partnership with leading recruitment company Reed to enable independent pharmacies to sign up for Kickstart. The Department for Work and Pensions pays wages and employment costs for a six-month job placement for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Speaking immediately after today’s event, Raj said: “I have 32 Kickstarters, who have been working alongside my teams in our very busy pharmacies in Greater Manchester. They have helped my teams tremendously and are also supporting us with our three COVID vaccination centres which opened two weeks ago.…

PureGym offer Community Pharmacy Vaccination Centres

PureGym are making available their gyms to facilitate the Government’s vaccination roll-out across the UK. As a business, they have closed all of their gyms and believe will remain closed until March at the earliest.

Over 270 sites in the UK: 236 in England, 25 in Scotland, 8 in Northern Ireland and 5 in Wales, PurGym sites are large with the majority being between 13k – 20k sqft (approx. 4-5 tennis courts in size). Locations vary from town centres, to retail parks with 200 of the locations having parking provisions. They are all ventilated, heated and well lit. They are well prepared in terms of hygiene and cleanliness having invested significantly in cleaning since re-opening in July. All sites all fully DDA compliant, with lifts for wheel chair access where required. There are male and female changing rooms, a small staff room (fridge / microwave etc) and lockers for staff / volunteers to store their belongings safely. The sites can be available within a matter of days, subject to an on-site review with the relevant party to understand requirements. And PureGym can support in the necessary amendments to space to ensure fit for purpose. Their 3000 operational colleagues who work within the clubs are currently furloughed. They are all first aid qualified. More information is available here or via vaccinationcentres@puregym.com…

NPA meets Equalities Minister to discuss COVID vaccines

The National Pharmacy Association met this week with Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister for Equalities, about reaching out to patients and communities who might otherwise miss out on vital care, such as the COVID vaccine.

NPA chair, Andrew Lane, who chaired the discussion on Thursday, said: “It is great to be talking to the Equalities Minister about a range of issues concerning our sector and the patients we serve. As employers, anchors for local economic activity and providers of healthcare to people in deprived communities, community pharmacists have an important role in supporting equality. “What’s more, many pharmacy owners and staff are from Black and Minority Ethnic groups. “The Minister is aware that people have a high level of trust in their local pharmacists, which could be an important factor in overcoming doubts and misapprehensions about vaccines for COVID-19. “We also took the opportunity to remind her of the current economic pressure on family-owned pharmacies, many of which are owned by people from BAME backgrounds and between them employ thousands of staff.” Kemi Badenoch told the meeting: “Throughout this pandemic our medical and frontline staff, including pharmacy teams, have been working tirelessly and you have done a tremendous job. “With the vaccine roll-out underway, we are ensuring it is deployed to those who need it most, based on our sophisticated understanding of COVID-19 risks. Giving us hope that there is light at the end of this tunnel.…

National Pharmacy Association statement on COVID vaccinations: let us help beat this deadly virus

The National Pharmacy Association is urging the government and NHS to permit more pharmacies to vaccinate people against COVID-19.

NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Pharmacies can play a significant role in the COVID vaccination programme, and we’re well equipped to get started immediately. “We have been on the health service frontline throughout the pandemic and now we want to join this latest, decisive, battle against this deadly virus. “The vast majority of pharmacies provide flu vaccinations, so there are thousands of potential local pharmacy sites for vaccinating against COVID, capable of protecting millions of people within weeks. “We are bound to ask, what on earth is stopping the NHS from mobilising more pharmacies for this vital task? “Pharmacists want to help, they are already trained for giving vaccines, and people are crying out for convenient local access to the vaccine.  It’s surely a no-brainer that pharmacies should be supported to take part in this urgent national effort. “The process for signing-up to give vaccines needs to be as agile as the workforce and should allow pharmacy teams to come on board rapidly. Approval of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine, for which storage is easier, means that many more pharmacies are now capable of offering vaccinations.”…

Demand for pharmacy job creation scheme “through the roof” says NPA

A month after launching a new scheme to help create jobs for unemployed young people, the National Pharmacy Association has already reached 400 placements and is looking to facilitate hundreds more.

In November, the NPA began a partnership with leading recruitment company Reed, to enable independent pharmacies to take part in the government’s new ‘Kickstart’ employment initiative. Under the Kickstart scheme, the Department of Work and Pensions pays wages and employment costs for a six-month job placement, for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Independent pharmacies can access the scheme via the NPA. The government is investing £2 billion in the fully funded scheme to help boost the economy. The benefits for pharmacies to take part in the scheme through the NPA and Reed include: • Saving the pharmacy time and enabling them to meet the Kickstart Scheme criteria by allowing the Gateway (Reed) to apply for a placement on their behalf • Attracting the right calibre of candidates to add value to their pharmacy/business and to provide the individual with a great working placement so they can increase their skills and work experience • Identifying and screening the most suitable high-quality Kickstart candidates quickly and efficiently without interruption to normal pharmacy trading • Giving access for the individual to excellent training through Reed’s employability skills and the NPA’s accredited courses – including medicines counter assistant training.…