Following the sad death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her state funeral is on Monday 19th September. To help the nation pay its respects, the day has been declared a Bank Holiday.
NHS England has discussed with PSNC how this will impact community pharmacy and is in the process of sending a letter to all contractors, setting out the above and requesting that they work with their local NHS England team to help plan arrangements for pharmaceutical provision in the area on the 19th of September. The letter can also be found on the NHS England website.
In considering arrangements for the 19th, contractors are encouraged to:
Consider the needs of their patients, including any specific clinical needs, since patients have little time to prepare. In particular, patients who collect controlled drugs in instalments should be considered, noting the use of approved Home Office wording on prescriptions (see further information on our Controlled Drug prescription forms webpage).
Consider staff availability. It is likely that many schools and childcare settings will close, affecting childcare arrangements.
Inform their local NHS England team if they are planning to remain open and, if appropriate, liaise with their LPC to help NHS England ensure sufficient pharmaceutical services provision in all areas.
If appropriate, liaise with other contractors in the area, in the public interest, to seek to ensure pharmaceutical services provision is adequate. There is a need to ensure that some pharmacies are open in each area.
Note that if NHS England is considering issuing directions requiring a pharmacy to open, it is only likely to do so if the contractor agrees to open. Time is too short for the usual administrative process.
Update the Directory of Services (DoS) entry and NHS website entry for the pharmacy, if relevant, to ensure it provides accurate information of the pharmacy’s opening times for the day. This is important to ensure, for example, that patients are only referred to the pharmacy through the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS) when it is open. Updating DoS should be done as soon as practicable, to give time to make the change in NHS Profile Manager, to overcome any registration or technical issues, and for revised entries to be updated on the system. Please see our recent reminder for more information on how to update DoS and the NHS Website.
Inform patients and the public of the nearest open pharmacy. If closed for the day, or for some of the day, ensure that relevant information on other pharmacies open in the area is available.
The basic Terms of Service provision is that contractors are not required to open community pharmacies on Bank Holidays and, therefore, may choose to close for the 19th of September, or for the time of the state funeral. The Terms of Service provide that a pharmacy’s usual opening hours for that day will count towards its core contractual hours for the week.
It is envisaged that as with other issues, contractors will work with NHS England to ensure that patients’ needs are met.
*In this context, reference to NHS England includes relevant integrated care board (ICBs).