News

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 11 January 2021

Media Summary

HDA Executive Director appears on BBC’s “Wake Up to Money” podcast

BBC Sounds, Wake Up to Money, 11 January

HDA Executive Director Martin Sawer appeared on BBC’s “Wake Up to Money: Rolling Out the Vaccine” podcast this morning to discuss the logistics behind the Government’s vaccination programme. In a detailed discussion, Mr Sawer explained the distribution routes which the vaccines will take and the importance of HDA members to the supply chain. Mr Sawer went on to speak about the possibility of local community pharmacies being involved in the future rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

You can listen to Martin’s appearance here.

 

Number of UK vaccination mega-centres to be expanded sevenfold

Financial Times, Jim Pickard, Sebastian Payne & Anna Gross, 11 January

The Financial Times reports that the number of UK vaccination “mega-centres” at locations such as sports stadiums and conference halls will be increased sevenfold in the coming weeks, under plans being drawn up by the government.

Boris Johnson has so far announced seven ‘supercentres’ at sites including the Excel Centre in London, Millennium Point in Birmingham and Ashton Gate stadium in Bristol. The Prime Minister intends to set up 50 centres as soon as possible, according to Whitehall figures.

The Johnson Government has set an ambitious target of vaccinating 14m people by February 15, to cover the four main priority groups set out by scientific advisers, including the over-70s, doctors and care workers. It will publish a delivery plan on Monday on how this will be achieved.

Vaccinations will be available at more than 1,000 general practitioner-led sites, 223 hospitals and seven large facilities by the end of this week. But there are plans to step up capacity even further in the coming weeks, bringing 200 pharmacies as well as the 50 mass vaccination centres into play.

 

The urgent calls to ‘unleash’ pharmacy COVID-19 vaccinations

Chemist + Druggist, Thomas Cox, 08 January

Chemist + Druggist reports that representatives from across the healthcare industry have asked the government to mobilise more of the sector to vaccinate in the fight against COVID-19.

The pharmacy sector has been calling for a greater role in vaccine delivery plans since the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab in December, but only 200 out of more than 11,000 eligible pharmacies in England are set to administer vaccines, according to NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The Healthcare Distribution Association “couldn’t agree more” with the idea of additional pharmacies supporting COVID-19 vaccine delivery, Executive Director Martin Sawer tweeted. He stressed that the sector already has distribution mechanisms in place that could be used for vaccinations.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

Asymptomatic testing to be rolled out across the country starting this week

Department of Health and Social Care, 10 January

The Department of Health and Social care has announced that local authorities will be encouraged to target testing to people who cannot work from home during lockdown.

Rapid, regular testing for people without symptoms of COVID-19 will be made available across the country from this week, with the eligibility of the community testing programme expanded to cover all 317 local authorities.

Expansion of asymptomatic testing will identify more positive cases of COVID-19 and ensure those infected isolate, protecting those who cannot work from home and the UK’s vital services. With around 1 in 3 people with Coronavirus not displaying any symptoms, this programme is crucial.

The full press release can be found here.

 

Statement from Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi on vaccine deployment

Department of Health and Social Care, 10 January

Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said in a statement that a full vaccine deployment plan will be announced today.

He said: “To achieve this target, we have an ambitious plan to protect our most vulnerable groups first, because they account for more than 4 out of 5 COVID deaths. We want to offer the vaccine to the top 4 most vulnerable groups by the middle of February.”

By the end of this week, over 1,000 GP-led vaccination sites will reportedly be up and running, as well as 223 hospital sites, 7 giant vaccination centres and the first wave of 200 community pharmacies. The Government therefore hopes it won’t be too long before the programme can be expanded down the priority list, with more people able to get jabs.

The full statement can be found here.

 

Scottish Government – Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine national roll-out

Scottish Government Press Release, 10 January

The Scottish Government has announced that many more people will receive the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine in GP practices and community vaccination centres across Scotland from today.

Scotland has an allocation of 533,640 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in January. These doses are available for local order and delivery to the different parts of Scotland, and the vaccine has already been administered in primary care settings in NHS Tayside, Lothian, Orkney and Highland.

First doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will now start to be administered in GP practices and community centres across the rest of Scotland this week. Those aged 80 years and over will be invited to attend for vaccination by their local NHS Board or GP practice via a letter or by phone.

The full press release can be found here.

 

House of Commons, Written Question, 08 January

Grahame Morris (Labour, Easington): To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what role community pharmacies will have in the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Full Coverage

HDA Executive Director appears on BBC’s “Wake Up to Money” podcast

BBC Sounds, Wake Up to Money, 11 January

HDA Executive Director Martin Sawer appeared on BBC’s “Wake Up to Money: Rolling Out the Vaccine” podcast this morning to discuss the logistics behind the Government’s vaccination programme. In a detailed discussion, Mr Sawer explained the distribution routes which the vaccines will take and the importance of HDA members to the supply chain. Mr Sawer went on to speak about the possibility of local community pharmacies being involved in the future rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

You can listen to Martin’s appearance here.

 

Number of UK vaccination mega-centres to be expanded sevenfold

Financial Times, Jim Pickard, Sebastian Payne & Anna Gross, 11 January

This article is subject to copyright terms and conditions. Please access the article here.

 

The urgent calls to ‘unleash’ pharmacy COVID-19 vaccinations

Chemist + Druggist, Thomas Cox, 08 January

Representatives from across pharmacy have asked the government to mobilise more of the sector to vaccinate in the fight against COVID-19

The noise around community pharmacy delivering COVID-19 vaccines rose to a roar this week. The sector has been calling for a greater role in vaccine delivery plans since the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab in December, but only 200 out of more than 11,000 eligible pharmacies in England are set to administer vaccines, according to NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).

Calls for pharmacy vaccinations became more urgent due to the combination of the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which, unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, can be stored in fridges, and the announcement of a third national lockdown starting on Tuesday, January 5.

On January 6, The Telegraph published a front-page spread saying pharmacy teams had been “snubbed” by the government over the COVID-19 vaccines. The article featured Simon Dukes, Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Negotiating Services Committee (PSNC), saying the proffered support of the sector had been met with “silence”.

The story was accompanied by related content across several mainstream media outlets, including BBC Radio 4, The Times, The Guardian and The Sun, featuring statements from PSNC and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

The media furore peaked later that day, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling parliament how “a vital role can be played by pharmacies” alongside GPs, hospitals and the army. The next day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged how pharmacies could help spread vaccine access to all corners of the country.

“Community pharmacies…are highly engaged in their local communities, often more local than any other healthcare setting and therefore will be able to support right into the communities that we need to reach [with the COVID-19 vaccine],” Mr Hancock said.

NPA: “Get started immediately”

Pharmacy joined the clamour with aplomb. C+D launched a petition urging NHSE&I to let more pharmacy teams across England pitch in with national COVID-19 vaccination efforts, which had more than 800 signatures at the time of publication, and wrote an open letter to NHSE&I chief executive Simon Stevens.

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) Chair Andrew Lane says the issue should be a “no-brainer” for vaccine leads. He asks: “What on earth is stopping the NHS from mobilising more pharmacies for this vital task?

“Pharmacies can play a significant role in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, and we’re well equipped to get started immediately. We have been on the health service frontline throughout the pandemic and now we want to join this latest, decisive, battle against this deadly virus.”

To be eligible to host a vaccine site, community pharmacies have to be able to meet criteria including having the capacity to deliver 1,000 vaccines a week, an impossible standard for many businesses.

Mr Lane continues: “The process for signing up to give vaccines needs to be as agile as the workforce and should allow pharmacy teams to come on board rapidly.”

CCA worried about NHS flexibility

The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), which represents the UK’s largest multiples and supermarket pharmacies, has been unequivocal in its support for commissioning more pharmacies to offer the vaccines.

“The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should help the NHS unleash the full potential of pharmacy teams up and down the country,” the CCA says.

“We are concerned that the NHS could miss the opportunity to use [the community pharmacy] network at its full capacity unless lessons are learnt from the planning of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine programme.”

Some CCA members, including Boots, Superdrug and Morrisons, are running sites to provide COVID-19 vaccine, but the association estimates that if all other community pharmacies were involved as well, they could provide up to a million vaccines a week.

“The delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does not need to be established from the ground up,” the CCA says. “There are tried and tested logistical and clinical networks that can easily be used to deliver what is needed with very little lead time.

“We urge the NHS to adopt a flexible approach to providing accessible vaccinations by working with the CCA and our pharmacy partners to find solutions to the challenges we face. We must leave no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine programme is a success, without any unnecessary delay.”

“Do not delay”

Many pharmacies want to see a response from the government immediately. The Cambrian Alliance Group, a pharmacy support organisation with approximately 1,200 members, claims that the sector could deliver more than one million vaccines per week.

“It is imperative that the government does not delay, ask community pharmacy for support now and you will get it.”

The sector could be a crucial part of the national effort, the group says. “It is important that government now turns its attention to adopting a new approach and seeks support and assistance from those who can help. Community pharmacy stands ready, willing and able.

“Community pharmacies are situated in high street locations, in neighborhood centres, and are often in some of the most deprived communities. Crucially, 89% of the population in England has access to a community pharmacy within a 20-minute walk.”

“Public health disgrace”

The Healthcare Distribution Association, which represents the UK’s largest medicine wholesalers, “couldn’t agree more” with the idea of more pharmacies supporting COVID-19 vaccine delivery, Executive Director Martin Sawer tweeted. He stressed how the sector already has distribution mechanisms that could be used for vaccines.

Administering 100 vaccines a week per pharmacy is “realistic”, North of Tyne local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) tweeted, amounting to over one million vaccines a week if every pharmacy in England was involved.

“It’s a public health disgrace that community pharmacies are not being engaged to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme,” the LPC said.

Rifat Asghar-Hussain, Superintendent Pharmacist of Evergreen Pharmacy and Green Cross Pharmacy in Birmingham, said in a tweet that it was “absolutely unbelievable” that the majority of pharmacies had been snubbed by the government because patients want the vaccines from pharmacies.

Thorrun Govind, RPS English Pharmacy Board member, echoed this refrain when she tweeted “pharmacists are ready and able to vaccinate”.

Last but not least came politician Rory Stewart, former Secretary of State for International Development, who summed up the mood of many when he tweeted that the government’s overlooking of pharmacy for COVID-19 vaccines “seems so bizarre”.

While pharmacies have made it clear that they are ready to join the vaccination programme, the battle is far from won, as the government have yet to commit to commissioning more than 200 pharmacy-led vaccination sites.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 11 January 2021

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

See the Infographic

Apply to become a Member

Membership of the HDA guarantees your organisation:

  • Access to leading policy and industry forums of debate and discussion
  • Invitations to a range of networking industry events organised through the year, including an Annual Conference and a Business Day
  • Representation on HDA working parties, including the Members’ Liaison Group
  • A daily Political and Media Bulletin and HDA Newsletters
  • Access to HDA policy documents and all sections of the HDA website
  • Branding and marketing opportunities
Apply Now

Already a Member?