NPA calls for a re-think on “disenfranchising” pharmacy representation vote

The steering group taking forward the Review of Pharmacy Representation in England has issued its plan for a voting process for the reform of PSNC and LPCs.

  The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today called for a re-think. NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “There’s a clear case for changing the way pharmacy contractors are represented in England, especially in the light of emerging NHS structures at local level.  We need a system that works seamlessly from end to end – local to national. “However, if change is to be sustainable and legitimate, it must be widely supported across community pharmacy. The Review Steering Group has said that it is seeking to build a consensus for change, yet the Group’s proposed voting mechanism falls short of what is needed to guarantee a way forward that commands the support of the whole sector. “Under these proposals, a very small number of large pharmacy businesses could outvote thousands of independent contractors, effectively disenfranchising the independent sector. “The voices of independent contractors must be properly heard in this process, by getting the explicit consent of the independent sector through a fair vote”. The RSG plans to hold a single vote to approve (or not) the proposals for future contractor representation and support at both a national and local level. A two-thirds majority of all those casting a vote is required to approve the vote, with a ‘target voter turnout’ of 66% of the contractor base.…

National Pharmacy Association responds to overprescribing review

The clinical skills of all pharmacists should be used to tackle the overprescribing of medication, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said, in response to a major government-commissioned review into the issue.

Led by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Dr Keith Ridge, the report found 10 per cent of the volume of prescription items dispensed through primary care in England are either inappropriate for that patients’ circumstances and wishes, or could be better served with alternative treatments. Nick Kaye, Vice Chair at the National Pharmacy Association said:  “This is a highly significant report.  Medicines are the single most widespread healthcare intervention, so it’s vital that their use is optimised, to help patients and to ensure value for money for the NHS. “Community pharmacists could play an increasingly important role in ensuring effective prescribing, for example through Structured Medication Reviews and as independent prescribers. That will improve patients’ access to advice and deploy the expertise of pharmacists to good effect. The clinical skills of all pharmacists, not just those working in GP practices, need to be brought to bear further on this important agenda. “On the flip side of overprescribing is the matter of helping patients get the most from their medicines once dispensed, which is the bread and butter of community pharmacy.  New services like the Discharge Medicines Service and the extended New Medicine Service build on this role significantly.  “In implementing the report’s recommendations, the principle of shared decision-making will be very important, so that the focus is always on getting the best from medicines and never on denying access to medicines, which serves to exacerbate health inequalities.”…

You’ll be our anchor, First Minister of Wales tells NPA members

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, and Wales’ Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Andrew Evans were among guests to gather at Cardiff Castle on Monday to celebrate the centenary of the National Pharmacy Association.

Mark Drakeford told the assembled NPA members:  “The word ‘community’ in community pharmacy means something. As well as being an essential clinical resource, community pharmacy is an economic driver.  As we rebuild after the pandemic, you will be one of the anchors that help maintain the vitality of local high streets.” He praised the work of pharmacy teams during the pandemic, saying: “You have been on the frontline of the extraordinary experience we’ve all been through. Without you we wouldn’t have got through this together… that’s why there is support for community pharmacy across the political spectrum in Wales.” Making a formal toast, Andrew Evans said: “We have ambitions for a reinvented community pharmacy service – one that is thoroughly modern but built around the values and behaviours that are intrinsic to independent community pharmacy. The NPA and its members will have an invaluable role in that future.” Health & Social Services Minister, Eluned Morgan, told guests, via a recorded video message, that the lessons of the pandemic will “help us further develop the role of pharmacies” and promised ongoing support. She looked forward to “a positive agreement [with Community Pharmacy Wales] later this financial year, which will reflect our shared ambition that every community pharmacy in Wales will provide an extended range of services, available consistently across the country.”…

Take hub and spoke to the competition watchdog, says NPA

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) wants the competition watchdog to look into hub and spoke dispensing, to ensure the system can operate without undermining choice in the medicines supply chain and disadvantaging independent pharmacies.

  The NPA says that there needs to be a dynamic and competitive market in which hubs compete on the basis of quality of service and price for the custom of pharmacies that want to operate this model. Its board has suggested five tests for maintaining fair competition and choice within hub and spoke dispensing:   Hubs must be registered pharmacies and meet all GPhC/PSNI standards. Hubs must be prevented from using their trusted position in the supply process to try to circumvent the relationship between the spoke and the patient, for example by using patient dispensing data for other commercial reasons or inserting branding or advertising material into packs to be supplied to a patient. The current barriers to entry for a hub provider presented by the direct to pharmacy (DTP) and limited wholesaler schemes must be removed so that any registered provider meeting standards can operate and compete in this market. A common set of standards should set out the duties and accountabilities of a dispensing hub and professional metrics which must be collected and published by the hub to assist the spoke in selecting a potential provider. Any mechanism which is designed to prevent a pharmacy from easily switching hub provider should be prevented, thus ensuring that pharmacies can drive competitive pressures in this market.…

Northern Ireland protocol: NPA calls for medicines deal

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today issued a fresh appeal to Brexit negotiators to reach an understanding that will allow manufacturers and suppliers to continue to supply medicines as normal to Northern Ireland.

Under the Northern Ireland protocol, part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, medicines made in UK have to be licensed separately for use in the country including separate safety inspections and other checks before they can be given to the public. It came into force on 1 January 2021, and is now part of international law. The NPA board discussed this issue during its board meetings on 28-29 June. NPA board representative for Northern Ireland, Michael Guerin, said: “This situation, if unresolved, will be intolerable for NPA members and patients in Northern Ireland. We are deeply concerned that the additional cost and complexity of getting medicines into Northern Ireland will result in some manufacturers and suppliers not bringing products to the market. This could result in reduced stock being available, leading to medicine shortages and an increase in the procurement costs. “The medicines supply to Northern Ireland is integrated into the UK market and works on a just in time basis. Close alignment of regulations would help to limit future disruption. We urge the EU and the UK to address this issue urgently and not leave it for patients, carers, pharmacists and GPs to pick up the problem further down the line.…

New health secretary committed to pharmacy, NPA conference told  

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference heard today (5 July) that Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, is committed to community pharmacy and has already had talks on the subject with Public Health Minister Jo Churchill.

Jo Churchill told the audience of independent pharmacy owners and health service stakeholders: “The new secretary of state and I have already had conversations about pharmacy and its value to the system, so I’m sure that commitment is there.  As a government, we are committed to the idea of community pharmacy as the first port of call for minor illnesses and having a key role at the heart of primary care and prevention.” “I believe you have an essential role as part of the NHS family and bring amazing value to local communities”, she added. During her 30-minute address, the Minister thanked pharmacies for going “above and beyond” during the pandemic. She said that she, Sajid Javid and his predecessor Matt Hancock were all grateful for the work of pharmacies in supplying vital medicines and keeping people safe. She expected the number of pharmacist-led Covid vaccination sites to go up “by hundreds”. The NPA conference continues online until Thursday. …

Pharmacy Minister backs new plan to beat COVID and rebuild NHS  

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) today launched “a bold plan” for England’s community pharmacies to protect the population from COVID-19, improve access to primary care and prevent ill health.

Speaking at this week’s NPA conference, Public Health Minister Jo Churchill MP said she is “encouraged” by the plan and wants to see community pharmacy sitting at the heart of primary care. The plan, called How We Can Help, argues that pharmacies are well placed for a central role in delivering booster COVID-19 vaccinations, allowing GPs to focus on clearing the care backlog in the NHS. It highlights pharmacists’ strong face-to-face relationships with patients and years of experience delivering flu vaccines.  It also covers pharmacy’s broader potential in preventing ill health, managing long term conditions and providing access to care near to where people live, work and shop. NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Today we’re launching the National Pharmacy Association’s bold plan to unleash the potential of community pharmacy in England. Provided there’s sufficient ongoing support from government and NHS, pharmacies can help get the country through the pandemic, help the NHS catch up on lost ground and be a foundation stone for better care in the future.  Pharmacies have been central to the NHS response to Covid throughout, and you can be sure that the end of lockdown won’t be the end of the story of our sector’s epic contribution.…

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.…

Job security during the pandemic: working in community pharmacy as a kickstarter

Since the government began its Kickstart Scheme back in September 2020 community pharmacies have been stepping up to fill as many work placements as they can.

  The backdrop before the launch of Kickstart was grim – the nation faced one of the worst unemployment rates in history and many sectors faced a workforce shortage due to staff having to self-isolate as a result of Covid-19. While the Chancellor’s furlough scheme was trying to keep workers afloat, the Kickstart Scheme became a means to enable young people, at risk of long term unemployment, get on the job ladder. Guided by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and recruitment agency Reed, hundreds of young Kickstarters are working in community pharmacies across the country with many more waiting to start. Victoria Duricic-Moutrey is just one of those. The 23-year-old, who is currently doing a placement at Clarke Pharmacy in South-West London, finished a degree in Biomedical Science in Chester last year before moving to the capital. “I’ve been trying to apply for jobs for five months and it was impossible,” she says. “I was applying for lab assistant jobs because that’s what I wanted to do but for some reason it’s so difficult to even land an interview.” Victoria applied for the kickstart scheme via her university. “They asked if there was anything else I’d be interested in doing for the mean time because I’ve been getting nowhere with applying for lab assistant jobs,” she explains.”…

International travel restrictions lifted in England from Monday 17 May 2021

Certain rules will be put in place for travellers to adhere to when travelling abroad. Key points for pharmacy teams are discussed when advising such customers.

The Government has decided that international travel can resume from Monday 17 May 2021 for people in England. A three-tier traffic light system, with countries classified into three categories – green, amber and red will be put in place. The traffic light system will determine the rules that are required to be followed when travellers return to England from the destination they have visited. The full list of countries in each category is available on GOV.UK. Furthermore, people in England who have received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine will be able to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status from Monday 17 May 2021 and access this status when travelling abroad. This can be via the NHS App or by calling the NHS helpline on 119, to request a letter proving vaccination status. People should not approach their GP surgeries regarding their COVID-19 vaccination status and GPs are not able to provide letters containing this information. Other changes to lockdown restrictions that will take effect from Monday 17 May 2021 can be found here. Key points for pharmacy teams Potential travellers should be advised to read the following advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) before they travel and to sign up for an email alert to ensure they are up to date with current advice: FCDO Travel abroad and coronavirus (COVID-19) Country-specific travel advice Review up-to-date information from TravelHealthPro in relation to travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic Advise the traveller to be aware that other countries may have different advice to the UK in relation to COVID-19 testing, quarantine and social distancing Advise travellers that countries are rated as red, amber or green for COVID-19 and they must follow the rules that apply for each category when they return to England Advise potential travellers to register for the free NHS App so they can access their COVID-19 vaccination status or call the NHS helpline on 119 to request a COVID-19 vaccination letter Advise potential travellers to check whether the country or territory they are travelling to requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry Currently, proof of vaccination is not accepted by many countries The rules the potential traveller must follow are dependent on whether the country they are returning from is rated as red, amber or green – further information can be found on UK website Advise the potential traveller that changes in conditions can result in countries and territories moving between categories and therefore, it is important to stay up-to-date with any changes Travellers are still required to have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test before they return to the UK and take COVID-19 tests on their return; this also applies to those who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 The private Test To Release Scheme will allow travellers arriving into England from the amber list countries or territories to have the option of taking a private COVID-19 test to potentially reduce the quarantine period Advise potential travellers on travel vaccine and malaria chemoprophylaxis requirements Refer to the “NPA Malaria prophylaxis information” leaflet for country-specific malaria recommendations The contents of the NPA malaria prophylaxis information leaflet should not be used for clinical decision making when following and supplying through Patient Group Directions Contact the Pharmacy Services team by telephone on 01727891800 or email pharmacyservices@npa.co.uk…