Community pharmacies in England ordered to open at Easter


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.”




New GP contract may contribute to further pharmacy closures



The negotiating body for community pharmacy contractors in England (PSNC) has raised concerns about the impact of the new GP contract on the community pharmacy network in England.


PSNC Chief Executive, Simon Dukes, commented:


“Whilst investment into primary care is always welcome, this latest general practice funding deal will hardly feel like good news to community pharmacies. Channelling all investment into primary care via general practice is a crude response to the much wider problem of rising demand for healthcare and the strain on resources in the NHS. We know that GP practices are struggling, and we want to see the NHS looking further afield, and thinking about how best to use all providers of NHS services alongside GPs, for solutions.”


The Government and NHS England have committed at least an additional £1.5 billion in total for general practice over the next four years for additional staff, a key step towards delivering 50 million more appointments in general practice by 2024.


In addition to the Government’s commitment to invest in general practice under the Long Term Plan, this funding is for the recruitment of 6,000 more primary care professionals as well as for initiatives to support the recruitment and retention of doctors in general practice.


In agreement with the profession, the General Practice Contract for 2020/21 will also offer more check-ups for new mums as part of a major deal with England’s family doctors.


The contract includes a roadmap for delivering the numbers of doctors in general practice by 6,000 and bring in 26,000 new staff to bolster surgeries. This will include pharmacists, physiotherapists, dieticians and occupational therapists, who will become a core part of local primary care teams, reducing pressure on general practice and ensure patients can see or speak to the right clinician.


Also included in the agreement are regular visits for care home residents, assessing medication and new incentives to increase uptake of vaccinations and learning disability health checks, expand social prescribing referrals, and improve prescription safety checks.


Expanding the new workforce will allow GPs to focus on the sickest patients and will in time allow them to provide longer appointments to people who need one.


Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:


“I want the NHS to be there for everyone when they need it, and to take pressure off hospitals by expanding primary care. This new contract is the first step to delivering our manifesto commitment to make it easier to get a GP appointment when you need it by delivering 50 million more appointments a year in general practice.


“The significant additional investment means GP surgeries can recruit more pharmacists, physiotherapists and other health professionals so patients get the right care for them when they need it. It’s all part of our commitment to ensure the NHS is always there for everyone.”


Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said:


“This agreement funds a major increase in general practice staff – including GPs, therapists and pharmacists – so that patients can get quicker appointments with a wide range of skilled health professionals at their local doctors’ surgery.


“These extra staff will in turn be offering expanded services, including regular health checks for people living in care homes, action to boost vaccination uptake, earlier cancer detection, and better support for people with learning disabilities.


“Coming on the heels of the highest ever number of young doctors now choosing to train as GPs, this is a vote of confidence in general practice that goes with the grain both of what patients need and what GPs themselves want to provide.”


Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS medical director for primary care and London GP, said:


“This agreement means better care for patients, and will help relieve pressure in general practice. This contract is good news for practicing GPs, and supports our practices in the new Primary Care Networks to bring in extra skilled staff, and recruit and retain our GPs.”


Ian Dodge, NHS national director of strategy, said:


“Today’s deal is another important moment, when general practice is given the practical support it needs to expand patient care. And with a much bigger team, and more GPs, it becomes possible to provide new services and improve access for patients.”


Simon Dukes continued:


“One of the key priorities of the Secretary of State and current Government is prevention. This is a long-neglected area but one which is becoming increasingly important if we are to tackle the rising pressures on all health services. To have an impact, the NHS must start investing in this area through community pharmacies. Pharmacies already see some 1.6 million people every day: investing in services that make the most of these interactions and indeed drive more of them could mean that every person in England is regularly seen by a health professional close to their home, helping them to stay healthy and avoid the need to see GPs and other health services in the first place.


“It is also encouraging to see the NHS recognising the value of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, but the impact of investment in further roles for them linked to general practice will be negative for community pharmacies. It will create yet more demand for pharmacy staff and raise the cost of labour, a position which seems all the more untenable given the complete refusal of the Government and NHS to recognise pharmacies’ costs in delivering their ambitions set out in the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).


“PSNC will be examining the deal in detail and looking very carefully at the possible impacts on community pharmacy and how, as a sector, we can mitigate some of the risks. We have already begun preparation for the first annual review process, making the case for the sector’s costs and capacity with regards to the CPCF, and some of these factors will undoubtedly feed into those discussions. But overall we think this deal will put yet more financial stress on a sector that is in an increasingly unsustainable fiscal environment, increasing the risk that we will see further pharmacy closures happening randomly and affecting those patients who need their community pharmacists the most.”


Alcohol hospital admissions 19% higher than a decade ago


The number of admissions is 6% higher than 2017/18 and 19% higher than a decade ago, according to the Statistics on Alcohol, England 2020.


Alcohol-related admissions accounted for 2% of overall hospital admissions, which is the same rate as 2017/18. Men accounted for 62% of alcohol admissions, while 40% of patients were aged between 45 and 64.


These figures are based on the narrow measure1 where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for a hospital admission or there was an alcohol-related external cause.


A broader measure that looks at a range of other conditions that could be caused by alcohol shows 1.3 million admissions in 2018/19, this is an 8% increase on 2017/18 and represents 7% of all hospital admissions.


This report also presents a range of information on alcohol use and misuse by adults and children drawn together from a variety of sources.


Other figures included in the report show:


  • There were 5,698 deaths specifically attributed to alcohol2 in 2018, this is 2% fewer than in 2017
  • 77% of alcohol related deaths happened in people aged 40 to 69
  • 38% of men and 19% of women aged 55 to 64 usually drank over 14 units of alcohol in a week3
  • The average household spent £8.70 per week on alcohol in 2017/184
  • People aged 65 to 74 had the highest average weekly alcohol spend of £10.60 a week4.


This report contains newly published data from the Public Health England Local Alcohol Profiles for England, which uses data from NHS Digital’s Hospital Episode Statistics.


You can read the full report from NHS Digital by clicking here.


This story contains information from NHS Digital, licenced under the current version of the Open Government Licence.

Five year deal for community pharmacy in England worth almost £13bn

Following negotiations between PSNC, DHSC and NHSE&I, HM Government has agreed to make a five-year investment in community pharmacies. The deal secures funding of £2.592bn per year for community pharmacies. The agreement also sets out a vision for the expansion of clinical service delivery through pharmacies over the next five years, in line with the NHS Long
Term Plan.


The deal is in line with the GP contract, providing 5-year stability and reassurance to community pharmacy. The Government have said that this should allow businesses to make long term business decisions and to discuss investment with banks and suppliers.


The Government have said that this deal confirms community pharmacy’s future as an integral part of the NHS, delivering clinical services as a full partner in local Primary Care Networks.


There have been a number of new pharmacy services announced as part of the deal. Amongst the new services is the new national NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, connecting patients who have a minor illness with a community pharmacy which should rightly be their first port of call.


The deal seeks to recognise that an expanded service role is dependent on action to release pharmacist capacity from existing work. It seeks to rationalise existing services and commits all parties to action which will maximise the opportunities of automation and developments in information technology and skill mix, to deliver efficiencies in dispensing and services that release pharmacist time. The deal also aims to continue to prioritise quality in community pharmacy and to promote medicines safety and optimisation.


Matt Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care commented:


“Soon after becoming the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, I set out my ambition to unlock the huge potential within community pharmacy. I outlined that I wanted to see the clinical skills of the teams that work in pharmacies better utilised and to make best use of the accessibility of the 11,500 pharmacies throughout England. I am now delighted to set out this landmark 5-year settlement for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) which, from October 2019, will expand and transform the role of community pharmacies and embed them as the first port of call for minor illness and health advice in England.


“Community pharmacies are a vital and trusted part of our NHS. We need to draw on your expertise, your experience, and the invaluable human connection you have with your communities. Through this deal I expect to see community pharmacies further integrated within local primary care networks, doing more to protect public health and taking on an expanded role in urgent care and medicines safety.


“This deal sets out a clear future vision for community pharmacy, a vision which NHS England & NHS Improvement and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee fully support and are committed to delivering in partnership with us. I invite and encourage community pharmacy and other primary care contractors to work with me to deliver integrated and accessible community health services for all and to help people live happier, healthier lives for longer.”


Claire Anderson, Chair of RPS in England, said:


A shift to a major clinical future is encouraging and is absolutely the right direction for community pharmacy. We have long called for pharmacists in the community to play an expanded clinical role and there is much to welcome in the new contract with focus areas on urgent care, prevention, medicines optimisation and safety. The exploration of innovative and new services will showcase the enhanced roles that community pharmacy can play, such as enabling earlier detection of cardiovascular disease, Hepatitis C testing and supporting public health.


“Referring patients with minor illnesses who would have otherwise required an appointment with their GP to community pharmacists will be game-changing for our primary care systems. If successful, the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service will support the delivery of the NHS Long-Term Plan and make the best use of the clinical skills of community pharmacists through better integration. It will also have a positive impact on relationships within the multidisciplinary primary care team and in educating patients about the types of support and expertise that pharmacists provide.


“Medicines optimisation across the health service should be central to patient safety. As Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) are phased out, it will be vital that pharmacists in all settings, including within Primary Care Networks, are enabled to help people get the most from their medicines.”


“A five-year settlement will offer some certainty for contractors who want to plan for the future, although with funding remaining flat and contractors potentially facing rising costs, the sector will no doubt be keenly watching how further details on services and payments are negotiated each year.


“It will be vital for pharmacy leaders to engage with new NHS structures to co-create the design and delivery of local services, and so we welcome transitional payments to help meet costs associated with changes such as integration into Primary Care Networks.”


Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) said:


“We strongly support the emphasis on clinical services and the recognition that pharmacies can play a significantly greater role in urgent care and public health. What’s more, the five-year term of this settlement gives us the long view we asked for.


“But static funding year on year means it will be very difficult to deliver the transformational improvements we all want to see.  The government must be prepared to direct more money into community pharmacy if it becomes clear that funding is insufficient to maintain current core services and invest in positive new developments like the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service.


“We note the proposed annual review each October. To ensure the service levels required for patients, we suspect the £2.59bn needs to be a floor not a ceiling.”


Commenting on the agreement, Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of the Company Chemists Association (CCA), said:


“The CCA is supportive of a five-year settlement for community pharmacy. While we recognise that a further five years of flat funding will present significant challenges to what is already a financially strained sector, we are encouraged by the direction of travel set out by the agreement.


“The CCA and its members have been calling for a more clinically focused contract framework in recent years. We hope that the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service will allow community pharmacists and their teams to continue to refocus the sector on the delivery of care.


“We believe it is now critical that all community pharmacies embrace the new urgent care services and engage with Primary Care Networks so that the sector is more integrated within the NHS. We are also pleased to see the use of the Pharmacy Quality Scheme to support the sector-wide agenda for patient safety improvement.


“There is much still to be agreed within this settlement. We look forward to working with our colleagues from across the sector, through the PSNC, to help develop what the new framework will mean for contractors.”


You can view the PSNC summary of the new funding arrangements here.


Quicker access to the Summary Care Record for community pharmacies


Pharmacists can now access vital patient information quickly and simply through a new Summary Care Record (SCR) 1-click function.


The 1-click function allows pharmacy professionals logged in on their Smartcard to click straight through to a selected patient’s SCR, without having to log in separately and complete a manual search. This is expected to save time over the course of a day, making access to SCR an integral part of providing pharmacy services, such as medicine use reviews, the new medicines service, administering vaccinations and emergency supply.


Having access to a patient’s Summary Care Record speeds up care and reduces the need for phone calls to GP practices, delays to care and the need for referrals to other services, particularly out-of-hours. The new functionality is live across Sonar and Pinnacle advanced services systems. (1)


Tahmina Rokib Pharmacist and Clinical Lead for Digital Medicines & Pharmacy at NHS Digital said:


“SCR 1-click will allow pharmacists quicker access to critical information when carrying out community pharmacy advanced services. This is a great first step to integrating core clinical tools into systems to make things more efficient for busy health care professionals. It would be great to see the integration of SCR and other digital tools by more system suppliers in the future so that clinicians can fully reap the benefits. Improved access to SCR will support pharmacists to provide better and safer care for patients through more informed decision making due to quicker access to information.”


1. Certain systems from Sonar and Pinnacle are eligible for the new functionality.  Pharmacies using these systems should contact their supplier directly for more information.