News

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 1 July 2021

Media Summary

Pandemic delivery service extended until September 30
P3 Pharmacy, Pharmacy Magazine, 30 June 2021

P3 Pharmacy reports that the pandemic delivery service from pharmacies in England has been extended until 30th September 2021 for people who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said pharmacies, with the exception of distance-selling pharmacies, that are commissioned to provide the service must ensure those people receive prescription medicines and appliances at their homes within the 10 days they are isolating.

Only people who can provide their NHS Test and Trace account ID can access the service.

This was also reported by Pharmacy Business.

EU and UK extend post-Brexit grace period on Northern Ireland meat checks
Politico, Cristina Gallardo and Sarah Anne Aarup, 30 June 2021

Politico reports that the EU and the UK have agreed a three-month extension to a grace period allowing the movement of chilled meats to continue from Britain into Northern Ireland.

Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Chief EU negotiator told a press conference that the EU is “accommodating” the UK’s request to delay a ban on shipments of chilled British meats into Northern Ireland from 1st July 2021 to 1st October 2021.

UK Cabinet Office Minister David Frost, who oversees the country’s Brexit affairs, said despite the “positive first step,” we need a “permanent solution” to what the UK sees as unnecessary trade friction in the way the protocol is working.

The Commission is also proposing legislation to exceptionally allow medicines entering Northern Ireland be regulated by the UK. The idea is for the new law to be in force come 2022, when a current grace period is due to expire.

Maroš Šefčovič said: “They’re also an unquestionable response to those in the UK suggesting that the EU is inflexible, or too legalistic. Because in some cases, notably on medicines, we have completely turned our rules upside down and inside out to find the solid solution on outstanding challenge.”

This was also reported by Reuters.

 

 Parliamentary Coverage

Most vulnerable could be offered booster COVID-19 vaccines from September
Department of Health and Social Care, 30 June 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) reported that the UK welcomes Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) interim advice on who to prioritise for a third dose.

The JCVI’s interim advice is to plan to offer COVID-19 booster vaccines from September 2021, in order to prolong the protection that vaccines provide in those who are most vulnerable to serious COVID-19 ahead of the winter months. The 2-stage programme would take place alongside the annual flu vaccination programme.

The final JCVI advice will be published before September and will take into account the latest epidemiological situation, additional scientific data from trials such as Cov-Boost, real-time surveillance of the effectiveness of the vaccines over time and emerging variants. The final advice could change from the interim advice as further data is analysed.

The Government is working closely with the NHS to ensure that if a booster programme happens it can be deployed rapidly from September.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We welcome this interim advice, which will help us ensure we are ready in our preparations for autumn. We look forward to receiving the committee’s final advice in due course.”

Everyone over the age of 18 and over is eligible to get a vaccine. By 19 July, all those aged 40 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable, who received their first dose by mid-May, will have been offered their second dose.

 

Full Coverage

Pandemic delivery service extended until September 30
P3 Pharmacy, Pharmacy Magazine, 20 June 2021

The pandemic delivery service from pharmacies in England has been extended until September 30 for people who have been told to self-isolate by NHS test-and-trace.

The PSNC said pharmacies, with the exception of distance-selling pharmacies, that are commissioned to provide the service must ensure those people receive prescription medicines and appliances at their homes within the 10 days they are isolating.

Only people who can provide their NHS test-and-trace account ID can access the service.

“A record of the NHS test-and-trace account ID reference number must be made and retained as part of the contractor’s delivery record,” the PSNC said.

The PSNC added that contractors should not put forward claims for the delivery service for clinically extremely vulnerable patients which finished on March 31.

EU and UK extend post-Brexit grace period on Northern Ireland meat checks
Politico, Cristina Gallardo and Sarah Anne Aarup, 30 June 2021

LONDON — Brussels and London defused another post-Brexit row — for now.

The EU and the U.K. have agreed a three-month extension to a grace period allowing chilled meats to continue to move from Britain into Northern Ireland.

European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič told a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the EU is “accommodating” the U.K.’s request to delay a ban on shipments of chilled British meats into Northern Ireland from July 1 to October 1.

However, he stressed the EU is “not issuing a blank check” and said the U.K. will have to “fulfill clear obligations” during the coming three months. London welcomed the “sensible extension” but is angling for a “permanent solution.”

In exchange for the extra time, Brussels will ask the U.K. to remain aligned with the EU food production rules and standards during the three months — a condition the British government is yet to formally endorse.

The British have “accepted not to modify [their] legislation [on food standards], which for the time being is aligned with that of the EU,” an EU official said. “That is different from the concept of ‘dynamic alignment’ which produces so much allergy to them.”

EU officials told reporters Wednesday that the package includes other conditions: these meat products must remain under the control of the Northern Ireland competent authorities; they must be accompanied by official health certificates issued by U.K. competent authorities; they can only be sold to end-consumers and in supermarkets located in Northern Ireland; and must be packed and labelled accordingly.

The EU, which does not normally allow the import of chilled meats from third countries, pressed for the ban to be part of the Northern Ireland protocol, a key element of the Brexit divorce deal that keeps the region within both the EU single market and the U.K. single market but introduces checks on goods shipped between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The extension will allow supermarkets in Northern Ireland “to continue to adapt their supply chains to the post-Brexit situation,” Šefčovič said.

U.K. Cabinet Office Minister David Frost, who oversees the country’s Brexit affairs, said London was “pleased we have been able to agree a sensible extension on chilled meats moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland — one that does not require rules in the rest of the UK to align with future changes in EU agrifood rules.”

But, despite the “positive first step,” Frost called for a “permanent solution” to what the U.K. sees as unnecessary trade friction in the way the protocol is working.

“The chilled meats issue is only one of a very large number of problems with the way the Protocol is currently operating, and solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure it delivers on its original aims: to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, and protect the EU’s single market for goods,” Frost said. “We look to work energetically with the EU to do so.”

Medicines move

The Commission is also seeking to soothe another point of tension with the protocol, proposing legislation to exceptionally allow medicines entering Northern Ireland be regulated by the U.K. The idea is for the new law to be in force come 2022, when a current grace period is due to expire.

The Commission will also waive the insurance green card requirement for British motorists driving in Northern Ireland, Šefčovič said. Meanwhile, guide dogs will be able to move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland without the animal health certificate usually required by the EU for pets. And livestock moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will not need to have ear tags changed multiple times.

“I am convinced that these forthcoming solutions are a true testament to our commitment to the people of Northern Ireland and to the Good Friday Belfast agreement,” the European Commission vice-president said. “They’re also an unquestionable response to those in the U.K. suggesting that the EU is inflexible, or too legalistic. Because in some cases, notably on medicines, we have completely turned our rules upside down and inside out to find the solid solution on outstanding challenge.”

The agreement was welcomed by the Irish government, with Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney saying: “This cooperative approach recognises that the protocol is jointly owned and must be jointly implemented. The only sustainable solutions are those agreed together.”

The agreement comes amid fresh polling suggesting public opinion in Northern Ireland on the need for post-Brexit checks is split. A new survey of 1,500 adults conducted by Queen’s University Belfast finds 47 percent of those asked agreeing the protocol is appropriate for the region, versus 47 percent who disagreed.

“People in NI are highly exercised by the Protocol, both for and against — and in equal proportions,” said Katy Hayward, a political sociologist at Queen’s University Belfast. “The political tensions are compounded by the low levels of trust in the political parties when it comes to the protocol, and by the fact that the protocol is likely to feature heavily in the next [Northern Ireland] Assembly election.”

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 1 July 2021

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