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Covid SOP update: Flexible opening measures removed

A flexible hours policy that has allowed pharmacies to operate with their doors closed to the public for two and-a-half hours during the day has now been rescinded.

An update yesterday to NHS England & Improvement’s Covid-19 SOP for community pharmacies removed the flexible opening measure, which was introduced in March to help pharmacy teams process record numbers of scripts in the early days of the pandemic. Flexible opening may be reintroduced to help pharmaces manage demand for flu vaccinations this winter, the PSNC has said. 

The updated SOP also says pharmacy teams should continue to wear surgical face masks, whether Type l, Type ll or Type IIR depending on availability. The requirement for the public to wear a face covering in pharmacies – now required by law – has also been added. 

NHSE&I said it will update pharmacies in areas affected by local lockdowns as and when they will need to resume providing the pandemic delivery service to patients classified as 'clinically extremely vulnerable'. 

The disposal of unwanted medicines has not been suspended during the pandemic, and continues to be an essential service in the SOP. The PSNC advised contractors to follow the usual service requrements and contact NHSE&I regional teams should they experience any problems with waste collection. 

Meanwhile, NHSE&I has confirmed that volunteers from the Royal Voluntary Service delivering medicines are covered by public liability insurance. However, the PSNC warned there is no information on indemnity for other volunteer groups working with pharmacies and urged contractors “to ensure that their own indemnity arrangements cover the use of involvement of any such volunteers".

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