News

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 14 June 2021

Media Summary

Pharmacy and GP vaccination sites get extra £20m
P3 Pharmacy, Pharmacy Magazine, 11 June 2021  

P3 Pharmacy reports that NHS England is providing an additional £20m to pharmacy and GP Covid-19 vaccination sites to speed up the delivery of the second jab.

The funding will be received through integrated care systems (ICS) and will allow primary care providers to get support from additional staff to deliver the vaccination programme between 16th June 2021 and 14th July 2021.

An NHSE&I letter said that ICSs will directly reimburse lead employers for additional staff drawn down by community pharmacy-led Covid-19 vaccination sites (and PCN-led sites) that are delivering vaccinations to cohorts 10-12.

NHSE&I said that ring-fenced funding will “bring in extra workforce to support the recovery of NHS services and another busy and crucial period for the Covid-19 vaccination deployment programme.”

ICSs are being asked to work with their PCNs, community pharmacy-led vaccination sites and their lead employer to ensure the funding is deployed where it is most needed to increase vaccination uptake.

This was also reported by the Chemist and Druggist.

SSPs save time and are safe, DH’s one-year review finds
Chemist and Druggist, Beth Gault, 11 June 2021  

The Chemist and Druggist reports that a Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) review has shown that Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) are “beneficial” for managing medicine shortages and saving time.

The one-year review of the policy published 27th May 2021 said that the DHSC has not yet been “made aware of any concerns or negative effects on patient safety” related to the introduction of SSPs.

SSPs allow community pharmacists to supply a “specified medicine in accordance with a protocol rather than a prescription”, without needing to seek authorisation from the prescriber.

The review said in the last 12 months that the SSP policy has been in effect, the DHSC is not aware of any concerns being raised about the effect on the medicines market or on patient safety for any of the SSPs that have been issued to date.

The DHSC wrote in the review that throughout the supply chain, there can be problems such as manufacturing issues, problems with raw ingredients or batch failures.

The DHSC said: “We continue to work closely with the affected suppliers to ensure the situation is resolved as quickly as possible.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) called for the legislation to be changed “to allow pharmacists to make minor amendments to a prescription, without a protocol, when a medicine is out of stock”.

The National Pharmacy Association said in its response to the review that SSPs “have not gone far enough to be able to meet the demands of medicine shortages”.

The Company Chemists’ Association also suggested that “more permanent alternatives to SSPs” should be considered.

 Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons – Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, 9 June 2021

Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol: Billy Hutchinson (PUP Leader and Belfast City Councilor) said that the trade problem of Brexit and Northern Ireland is a political problem that must be resolved by a political solution and that they are working hard to find solutions.

Full Coverage

Pharmacy and GP vaccination sites get extra £20m
P3 Pharmacy, Pharmacy Magazine, 11 June 2021  

NHS England & Improvement is providing an additional £20m to pharmacy and GP Covid vaccination sites to speed up the delivery of the second jab.

The funding, coming via integrated care systems (ICS), is to enable primary care providers to draw down additional staff to help deliver the vaccination programme between June 16 and July 14.

ICSs will directly reimburse lead employers for additional staff drawn down by community pharmacy-led Covid-19 vaccination sites (and PCN-led sites) that are delivering vaccinations to cohorts 10-12, says a NHSE&I letter sent out yesterday.

The funding has been allocated on the basis of site numbers to provide an average of seven additional staff (including some from the volunteer bank) for the four-week period, covering a range of roles depending on need.

The ring-fenced funding will “bring in extra workforce to support the recovery of NHS services and another busy and crucial period for the Covid-19 vaccination deployment programme,” said NHSE&I.

ICSs are being asked to work with their PCNs, community pharmacy-led vaccination sites and their lead employer to ensure the funding is deployed where it is most needed to increase vaccination uptake.

CCGs and ICSs are being urged to “offer all possible support to primary care to bring forward second dose appointments in line with JCVI guidance” and “minimise any burden associated with locally commissioned services where these do not support Covid-19 vaccination”.

The funding comes after those aged between 25-29 became eligible for their Covid jab on Tuesday (June 8), with a more than a million first and second dose appointments booked in the following 24 hours.

Accessing additional support is contingent on:

  • Providers administering all Covid-19 vaccines delivered to them within a week of the vaccines being delivered
  • Community pharmacy-led vaccination sites ensuring as many second dose slots as possible are opened up to enable citizens to rebook in line with JCVI guidelines
  • PCNs bringing forward second dose appointments where necessary in line with JCVI guidance.

“PCN and community pharmacy-led Covid-19 vaccination sites have played a vital role in the administration of over 58 million vaccinations to date. We are incredibly grateful for all you have done to support the programme,” says NHSE&I primary care medical director Dr Nikita Kanani.

SSPs save time and are safe, DH’s one-year review finds
Chemist and Druggist, Beth Gault, 11 June 2021  

Serious shortage protocols (SSPs) are “beneficial” for managing medicine shortages and saving time, a Department of Health and Social Care (DH) review of the policy has concluded.
The DH has not yet been “made aware of any concerns or negative effects on patient safety” related to the introduction of SSPs, it said in a one-year review of the policy published last month (May 27).

SSPs allow community pharmacists to supply a “specified medicine in accordance with a protocol rather than a prescription”, without needing to seek authorisation from the prescriber.

No concerns on the impact of SSPs

As part of its review, the DH sent a consultation – which ran from November 3-24 – to 16 organisations, including pharmacy groups, medical groups and patient organisations.

It asked whether they had any concerns over the impact of SSPs on the prescription-only medicines market and patient safety.

Eight organisations responded and none flagged any concerns over the impact of SSPs.

The review said: “In the 12 months that the SSP policy has been in effect, the DH is not aware of any concerns being raised about the effect on the medicines market or on patient safety for any of the SSPs that have been issued to date.

“Engagement with stakeholders has, rather, shown that SSPs have received a largely positive reception and are viewed as being beneficial, both in managing medicines shortages and in saving time.”

Most common SSPs

SSPs came into force in July 2019 in England to help ensure patients get quick access to medicines in the event of supply issues. Similar changes came into force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from October 2019.

The Human Medicines Regulations 2012 were changed to allow pharmacists to dispense an alternative medicine, rather than the prescription, in cases where an SSP was announced.

To date, 12 SSPs have been issued, seven of which have been for the antidepressant fluoxetine across 10mg, 30mg and 40mg. These seven SSPs have been extended multiple times, with 24 updates to the medicine’s availability overall published on the NHS Business Services Authority website.

Other medicines that have been subject to an SSP include haloperidol, Salazopyrin, levothyroxine, Competact and Estradot.

A DH spokesperson told C+D last week (June 2) the government is aware of the ongoing issues with fluoxetine, currently caused by manufacturing delays.

“The government has well-established processes to deal with medicine shortages and we work closely with the MHRA, NHS England and NHS Improvement and others in the supply chain to prevent shortages and minimise risks when they do arise,” the spokesperson added.

Read how the DH decides when to implement an SSP

In its one-year review of the SSP, the DH wrote that throughout the supply chain, there can be problems such as manufacturing issues, problems with raw ingredients or batch failures.

The DH said: “We continue to work closely with the affected suppliers to ensure the situation is resolved as quickly as possible.”

Does it go far enough?

SSPs have been criticised in the past for being a “half-measure”, or a “drop in the ocean”.

In its response to the review, published on 11 December 2020, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said that SSPs had “hardly been used” and there was a lack of consistency in the way pharmacists are empowered to deal with medicines across the UK.

“While we have no concerns over the impact of SSPs on the prescription-only medicines market, our members have expressed concerns about the use of these protocols,” the RPS wrote in its response.

“Pharmacists have a professional responsibility to support patients with their medicines, including when there is a national shortage. They are the trained experts in medicines and their use,” it added.

Other issues flagged by the RPS members included a perception that SSPs are “bureaucratic and professionally frustrating” and that the “SSP system is inflexible, and scalability is a practical issue”.

Make minor amends

The RPS called for the legislation to be changed “to allow pharmacists to make minor amendments to a prescription, without a protocol, when a medicine is out of stock”.

“Amendments would include changes such as a different quantity, strength, formulation or generic version of the same medicine in discussion with the patient,” it wrote.

The National Pharmacy Association said in its response – which it shared with C+D – that SSPs “have not gone far enough to be able to meet the demands of medicine shortages”.

The association suggested that pharmacists should be able to make “simple, non-clinical substitutions when a medicine is out of stock”, which would avoid the need to refer the patient back to their GP.

The Company Chemists’ Association also suggested that “more permanent alternatives to SSPs” should be considered.

In its response, seen by C+D, it suggested that, for instance, pharmacists should be able to use their clinical skills to make “generic substitution and substitution of strength, quantity and formulation in appropriate circumstances, without the need for special protocols or referral back to the prescriber”.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 14 June 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

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