The Scottish Government and Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) have finalised discussions to establish a time-limited, funded medicines delivery service to support the most vulnerable in Scottish communities.
Scottish Government have agreed a fixed pool of £5m for the period January to end of March 2021 to fund the service. In addition, contractors who participate in this service shall receive a one-off payment of £1,460 per contractor for initial set up costs and to recognise the workload associated.
The interim Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland Alison Strath has written to the community pharmacy network to inform them of the details of a new time-limited medicine delivery service for Scotland.
The delivery service is a time-limited medicines delivery service for those most at risk will help to alleviate the pressures on the pharmacy network and wider NHS. This cohort would include persons considered as shielding, all patients deemed to be at high risk (as per the NHS influenza vaccination criteria but excluding those aged 55-64), those self-isolating and those whom pharmacists’ professional judgement would warrant such a service.
It is envisaged that this will capture circa 1.5 million people across Scotland. Community pharmacy teams are asked to identify eligible patients and proactively offer the delivery service to them for acute and repeat medications. The service will also support those individuals or households who have been instructed to self-isolate through Test and Protect contact or a positive COVID-19 test.
The service will allow this cohort to stay at home and avoid unnecessary journeys (often on public transport) to community pharmacies, which may involve waiting outside in adverse conditions as a result of necessary COVID-secure ways of working. The service will also help community pharmacy teams to manage their workload and COVID risk from a reduced.
The service will run for an initial three month period, starting 18 January 2021. It will support manageable timescales for delivery and allow for significant uptake.
At the moment dispensing doctor practices are not included in the scheme.
The service will be reviewed prior to the planned end date (end March 2021) to assess the need for any extension.
Nicola Sturgeon commented on the new medicines delivery service at Monday’s daily briefing. She said:
“I would like to flag up the establishment of an NHS medicine delivery service in Scotland. We know that some people find it difficult to visit the local pharmacy, either because of the clinical conditions or because the need is pharmacy is some way away. And that is always true during the winter months when bad weather makes it harder for people to walk to pharmacies, especially if the as the might be right now are required to queue outside before being served.
“Many pharmacies already offered deliveries to some people but we want to establish a more consistent and comprehensive service. So for that reason, we are investing 5 million pounds to establish an NHS medicines delivery service, which will be available to approximately one and a half million people across the country, including those who have been shielding and other people who pharmacists believe would benefit from the service.
“The service will be operational by the end of this month, and it will be available until at least the end of March, although we will keep that under review. This will reduce the need for some people to go out when transmission rates are still high, and it will help people who struggle to get to the nearest pharmacy and ensure that everybody has ready access to the medication that they need.
In a statement published on their website today CPS has said:
“This would support these people to avoid any unnecessary journeys and stay safe at home as far as is possible, which has been important throughout the pandemic but is acutely important at this time with the most recent evidence around the new Covid-19 variant. This will also help to reduce footfall into community pharmacies to help keep pharmacy teams safe and will further recognise the unique contribution of our teams to Scotland’s continued good health.
“It is time-limited, initially until the end of March, and will be reviewed prior to this to determine whether it is required beyond this point.”
Clare Morrison, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Director for Scotland, said:
“This new delivery service is fantastic news for patients and underlines community pharmacy’s key role in supporting people through the Covid pandemic.
“For many people, having to go out during the Covid pandemic to get their medicines is a real concern. We are delighted to see this recognised and addressed by enabling all pharmacies in Scotland to provide a delivery service to patients who are shielding, self-isolating or at risk.
“Our one concern about delivery services, in general, is that they may make it more difficult for a patient to talk to their pharmacist about their medicines. Therefore we would urge all pharmacists to ensure they continue to provide patients with easy ways to access their expertise by providing telephone and Near Me video consultations.”