Mayor of London in awe of community pharmacy

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has described community pharmacy teams as “unsung heroes” during the pandemic and said it was in the interests of government to inject more funding into the sector.

The comments were made during a In Conversation with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London event organised by the Asian Media Group and Eastern Eye newspaper on Thursday (29 April). NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette asked the Mayor, “Would the Mayor like to take this opportunity to thank the capital’s 1800 community pharmacy teams for staying open throughout the pandemic, thereby keeping the wheels on the NHS and maintaining access to advice, medicines and vaccines?” Mr Khan responded that he was “in awe and grateful for our pharmacy teams across London” and described them as “unsung heroes.” “I’ve been to pharmacies in many occasions over the last few weeks and months, not least receiving my flu jab. I have asthma so I go to a pharmacy regularly. Many people couldn’t go see their GP, they couldn’t get an appointment they didn’t have the confidence to use technology. The human beings that were available, that were the experts, were pharmacists. “I’m so in awe and grateful of pharmacies across our city. Many of them are small independent family businesses and they have shown the public how brilliant they are.” Jignesh Patel, from Rohpharm pharmacy in Newham, asked the Mayor about pharmacy funding. The Mayor responded that there is a strong economic case for investment in pharmacies and that London needs a strong network of pharmacies to help handle the next pandemic, when it comes.…

Pharmacy funding petition leaps to 89,000 following protests in key constituencies

Thousands more people have signed a petition calling on the government to recompense pharmacies for the extra costs they have incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, following protests by National Pharmacy Association members in the parliamentary constituency of chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Over 88,600 people have now signed the petition, up from approximately 50,000 three weeks ago when NPA members began campaigning in the constituencies of the Chancellor, Prime Minister, Health Secretary and other key ministers. The petition, launched in December and backed by grassroots campaigning organisation 38 Degrees, highlights that many independent pharmacies are in deficit and calls on the government to keep its promises to support the sector. NPA Chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Recent campaigning by NPA members in key constituencies has given fresh impetus to the petition. Patients and citizens are taking the opportunity to have their say on a matter of great significance to their daily lives – the viability of their local pharmacies and the future of vital NHS services.” The NPA is also asking pharmacists, their families and others working in and around the sector to sign the petition. Anyone wishing to do so should go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-local-pharmacies-2 The petition reads:   For months, pharmacy teams across the UK have been working without respite on the NHS frontline, playing a vital role in the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and helping reduce the pressure on GPs and A&Es. But the government hasn’t done enough to give community pharmacies the money they need to meet the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.…

The National Pharmacy Association’s board and committees convened, remotely, on 8-9 March

Chair of the Board, Andrew Lane, reports: Two members of the Review Steering Group (RSG), which is taking forward work on the future of pharmacy representation in England, attended the NPA board meeting to describe their role and their progress to date.

Mike Hewitson and Aneet Kapoor and their RSG colleagues have the role of ensuring that the views of a wide range of contractors are clearly heard in this process. Aneet and Mike are both pharmacy owners and with independent pharmacy contractors making up well over half of all owner-contractors the NPA was pleased to offer our support as a channel between the four independent representatives on the RSG and NPA members. The RSG is considering the recommendations of last year’s ‘Wright Review’ and will make proposals on the way forward in relation to pharmacy representation in England. The NPA board remains deeply concerned about the impact of covid-19 on our members’ finances.  We are determined to keep up the political pressure for fair funding, which has to include making good on commitments to meet the additional costs associated with coronavirus. This is ultimately about patient care but it is also a matter of fair pay for work done.  The board signed off new plans to equip NPA members in key parliamentary constituencies to make the case in public. Other topics for the board this month included hub and spoke dispensing, pharmacy supervision and workforce, plus our ongoing support for the All Party Pharmacy Group in parliament.…

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. …

NPA partners with Medicspot to allow members to sell Covid-19 PCR tests

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has partnered with healthcare company Medicspot to enable its pharmacy members to sell Covid-19 PCR test kits.

Following new Public Health England guidance issued in February, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has removed its blanket prohibition on Covid testing in pharmacies and the sale of Covid test kits by pharmacies.  Pharmacies selling Covid-19 PCR test kits in England are now required to self-declare to the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) to become a private Covid-19 testing provider. The new guidelines clarify the minimum standards pharmacies are expected to meet when selling Covid tests to organisations or members of the public. Dr Zubair Ahmed, CEO of Medicspot, said: “There had been a lot of confusion in community pharmacy on what pharmacies were and were not allowed to do. This clarification will be a bonus for many pharmacies who wish to provide private Covid-19 testing services for their communities.”  The list of requirements needed for DHSC approval includes the need for a designated clinical or medical director, a rigid procedure for reporting test results and clear governance and lines of accountability. In line with these guidelines, Medicspot provides an end-to-end service to manage the bulk of these requirements; giving pharmacies the ability to sell Covid-19 PCR test kits whilst meeting their governance obligations. Medicspot has developed a support tool to help NPA pharmacies that sell their testing kits to self-declare with DHSC.…

COVID-19 testing: new GPhC guidance removes pharmacy anomaly

The General Pharmaceutical Council says it will allow pharmacies to provide Covid-19 tests in certain circumstances, in a move welcomed by the National Pharmacy Association today.

In an open letter dated 15 February, GPhC states that the regulator is no longer barring community pharmacies from providing point of care or near-person antibody tests. Instead, they expect any pharmacy owner or pharmacy professional to “carefully consider” Public Health England guidance and other relevant guidance when deciding whether it is appropriate to offer this type of test, or other type of Covid-19 test. NPA Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “We are delighted that the GPhC has joined Public Health England in updating guidance on COVID-19 testing, following repeated representations by the NPA. “Community pharmacies are no longer explicitly prohibited from providing COVID tests, which was a clear anomaly in the initial position. “We believe our persistence helped bring about this levelling of the playing field in relation to testing, as well as a big dollop of common sense. “We are now examining the detail of this modified guidance – PHE and GPhC – so that the full implications can be properly understood.” GPhC’s updated position also emphasises that any pharmacy offering COVID-19 tests must carry out a full risk assessment and check whether they need to be accredited with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. NPA support to help its members with test kit sales and testing services will be available soon.…

NPA medication safety update (MSO report) Quarter 3 2020 (England)

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, since March 2020, there has been a significant decrease in the number of patient safety incidents being reported. During this unprecedented time, we appreciate you are currently extremely busy with a massively increased workload.

Pharmacies have had to adjust to new ways of working due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, patient safety incidents may occur in the course of your practice. Please continue to manage and report all patient safety incidents in line with your pharmacy process This includes completing the recording of the incident details carefully and fully Medication Safety update presenting our analysis of patient safety incidents reported during the third quarter of 2020 (Q3) – access the full update here. In the NPA Q3 2020 medication safety update: Analysis of patient safety incidents reported during Q3 2020 Look alike sound alike (LASA) errors analysis, including trends in gabapentin and pregabalin errors Controlled Drug incidents and COVID-19 OTC stimulant laxatives Methotrexate – new measures Lorazepam (Ativan®) 4mg/ml Solution for injection (Pfizer) shortage Opioids- Risk of dependence and addiction Valproate Other patient safety updates National Patient Safety Alerts COVID-19: Yellow Card reporting including COVID-19 vaccines Reporting patient safety incidents Relevant links & signposting Contact your MSO Summary of key findings from analysis of patient safety incidents reported during Q3 2020 Overall, there was a 19.6% increase in the number of incidents reported during Q3 2020, compared to Q2 2020. Compared to the same quarter in 2019, there was a 43.3%…

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).…