NHS England has announced via their COVID-19 primary care bulletin email delivered at 21.21 this evening that community pharmacies in England will be expected to be open at Easter.
Under the National Health Service (Amendments Relating to the Provision of Primary Care Services During a Pandemic) Regulations 2020 and with the agreement of the Secretary of State NHS England require community pharmacies in England to open from 2 pm to 5 pm on April 10th 2020 and April 13th 2020.
It was stated that General Practitioners will be open for business as usual on both Good Friday and Easter Monday and therefore in support of this NHS England will need access to NHS pharmaceutical services on these days.
The email also states that contractors will be able to claim payment over and above the £2,592 million settlement for opening these hours.
And finally, the email states that in line with the fact that this will look like a normal working day for the rest of the NHS, the rate will not reflect a bank or public holiday premium.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Medical Director for Primary Care NHS England and NHS Improvement and Ed Waller Director for Primary Care Strategy and NHS Contracts NHS England and NHS Improvement commented:
“We would like to thank each and every member of the community pharmacy teams for their significant contribution in supporting their patients and customers, as a vital part of the NHS response to COVID 19, in what we know have been extremely trying circumstances.
“We know that the NHS as a whole is being pushed well beyond what is normally expected, and that community pharmacies are no exception to that. As part of the very front line of the COVID19 response in the community, we do not underestimate the work that you do, and we know that patients value the support that you are able to provide.
“Things are moving quickly, and as you will understand a crucial phase of the pandemic will be ongoing over what is usually the long Easter weekend but for the NHS more widely this is likely to be an extremely busy time. As an important part of the overall NHS response to the pandemic pharmacies at this crucial time will need to be open on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
“Any pharmacy that was planning to open longer hours should still to do so to support access for patients through the day. If you believe your pharmacy is unable to open for reasons beyond the control of the contractor, then you should notify their NHS England and NHS Improvement regional office in the usual way and importantly update the NHS 111 DoS to prevent patients being referred to your pharmacy from NHS 111 when it is not open. Please make sure NHS website profiles include correct opening hours to support patient access.
“Community pharmacies in areas where there is minimal demand due to the Government’s social distancing policy (e.g. large shopping malls) should seek exemption from their NHS England and NHS Improvement regional team.”