The National Pharmacy Association and the Company Chemists’ Association have issued new guidance about maintaining continuity of pharmacy services in the event of crises. With the UK facing a second wave of coronavirus, the organisations are helping their members to plan ahead for all eventualities including staff sickness and COVID-19 lockdowns.
Providing Pharmaceutical Care in Crisis Situations sets out the stages of a response to a crisis for individual pharmacies and for pharmacies working together. In some circumstances this could include the sharing of staff and stock, to maintain essential services.
It provides a coordinated approach to dealing with significantly increased demand and reduced capacity that may be caused by national emergencies and local major incidents, including the impacts of COVID-19.
Five levels of response go from business as usual, through to protecting essential services by concentrating resources and co-ordinating temporary closures.
When a pharmacy can no longer safely provide pharmaceutical services to the public then it is expected that pharmacies within the local area will work together to pool resources of premises, people and products, in order to continue the provision of essential pharmaceutical services for local communities.
At all levels of response, staff need to have the chance to rest and recuperate.
CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison said:
“These documents are a set of principles. They have been designed to help contractors think about the steps and actions they should consider taking in emergency situations, including in the current pandemic, to support the community pharmacy network to continue to provide pharmaceutical care to their local communities”.
NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette said:
“This document is in no way a prediction of what will happen in community pharmacy as a result of the second wave of coronavirus. It is to help everyone in the sector think about contingencies for crises of all sorts, and how they might need to work with one another to maintain services.”
In anticipation of a COVID second wave, this document updates guidance first published in the spring. It includes more details than the earlier guidance and there are versions for each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.