HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 22 January 2021

Media Summary

HDA Executive Director Martin Sawer speaks at IFPW COVID-19 webinar
International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Virtual Webinar, 21 January

Martin Sawer, Executive Director of the HDA, was a panellist on yesterday’s IFPW COVID-19 seminar, ‘The Science Behind the Virus and Vaccines & Impacts on the Supply Chain.’

Mr Sawer discussed distribution of the vaccine through the United Kingdom, the cooperation between wholesalers and the NHS, and the importance of utilising existing supply networks. He reiterated that the British vaccination effort is built on established relationships, which has aided the distribution process.

You can watch Mr Sawer’s appearance from 00:50:06 here.

 

COVID-19 vaccine: Claims supplies ‘diverted from the North’ raise concerns
BBC News, Editorial Team, 21 January

BBC News reports that COVID-19 vaccine supplies in Yorkshire and the North East are reportedly being diverted to other parts of England.

The Health Service Journal reported that the number of doses sent to GPs in both areas – which have the highest vaccination rates among over-80s – could be halved next week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and NHS England said their focus was on targeting priority groups, but some regional leaders branded the reported move an “absolute disgrace”.

When NHS England was asked about the HSJ report, a spokesperson said: “All available vaccine doses are being delivered to vaccination sites and every GP-led vaccination site is receiving a delivery this week.

“To ensure all of those people in the top priority groups can get vaccinated quickly, targeted deliveries are being made to areas where there are more people left to vaccinate in the priority cohorts.”

 

Parliamentary Coverage

Explanatory note on Medicines and Medical Devices Bill
House of Lords, 21 January

An explanatory note on the Lords amendments to the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill has been published. One of the amendments tabled, amendment 31, would provide the Secretary of State with a power to make regulations creating a committee to advise on matters relating to medical devices. The committee would cooperate with the Commission on Human Medicines and other bodies.

The Bill had its third reading yesterday in the House of Lords and will now return to the Commons with amendments.

You can find the explanatory note here.

 

Joint Inquiry to question Sir Simon Stevens on the NHS response to the pandemic
Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee, 21 January

On Tuesday 26 January at 11am, NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens will appear before the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee as part of the joint inquiry into “Coronavirus: lessons learnt.”

The session will focus on how the NHS is handling the current wave of the pandemic as well as lessons learnt from the first wave. The progress of the vaccine roll-out, hospital capacity and infection rates, the pressure on NHS staff, and the impact to other parts of the health service will also be discussed.

On Tuesday 26 January at 10am, the COVID-19 Committee will hear how the pandemic has increased the adoption of AI, automation, remote-working and e-commerce.

You can find a press release on Sir Stevens’ appearance here.

 

Asymptomatic testing to be rolled out across the country starting this week
Department of Health and Social Care, 20 January

Asymptomatic testing will be rolled-out across the country from this week, with the eligibility of the programme expanded to cover all 314 lower-tier local authorities.

  • Local authorities will be encouraged to target testing at people who are unable to work from home.
  • So far, 131 local authorities have signed up to the programme, with 107 already testing their communities.
  • NHS Test and Trace will also scale up workforce testing.

You can read a full press release here.

 

Full Coverage

 

HDA Executive Director Martin Sawer speaks at IFPW COVID-19 webinar
IFPW Virtual Webinar, 21 January

Martin Sawer, Executive Director of the HDA, spoke yesterday to the “IFPW COVID-19 Seminar: The Science Behind the Virus and Vaccines & Impacts on the Supply Chain.”

Mr Sawer discussed distribution of the vaccine through the United Kingdom, the cooperation between wholesalers and the NHS, and the importance of utilising existing supply networks. He reiterated that the British vaccination effort is built on established relationships, which has aided the distribution effort.

You can watch Martin’s appearance from 00:50:06 here.

 

COVID-19 vaccine: Claims supplies ‘diverted from the North’ raise concerns
BBC News, Editorial Team, 21 January

COVID-19 vaccine supplies in Yorkshire and the North East are reportedly being diverted to other parts of England.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported that the number of doses sent to GPs in both areas – which have the highest vaccination rates among over-80s – could be halved next week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and NHS England said their focus was on targeting priority groups.

But some regional leaders branded the reported move an “absolute disgrace”.

When NHS England was asked about the HSJ report, a spokesperson said: “All available vaccine doses are being delivered to vaccination sites and every GP-led vaccination site is receiving a delivery this week.

“To ensure all of those people in the top priority groups can get vaccinated quickly, targeted deliveries are being made to areas where there are more people left to vaccinate in the priority cohorts.”

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi later denied the claims and stated “no vaccine is being taken away from Yorkshire”.

According to the latest NHS figures, Yorkshire and the North East lead the UK with 64% of over-80s having receiving their first vaccine dose, compared with 48% in London and 13.1% in Scotland.

The HSJ said primary care providers in the regions could receive 100,000 doses next week, compared with the previous supply of 200,000.

When asked by Yorkshire Labour MP Jon Trickett about the HSJ story, Mr Hancock said the government was committed to ensuring that “everyone in the top four groups can receive that offer of a vaccine by 15 February”.

“Of course we’ve got to make sure that vaccination programme is fair right across the UK, and some parts of the country, including parts of the North East and parts of Yorkshire, have gone really fast early on, which is terrific,” said Mr Hancock.

‘Penalised for doing right’

The reported change to GP supply was criticised in the North East, which recently announced plans to open more mass Covid jab sites.

Martin Gannon, the Labour leader of Gateshead Council, told colleagues he was “doing everything I can to control my temper” as they discussed the claims.

Speaking at a meeting of the full council, he said: “We have, clearly, the very best public health network in the entire country. I would be furious, I think we all should be in the region, if we are being penalised for being the best.

“The second point is that I can kind of understand that we have to let other areas catch up.

“However, we have greater need and greater vulnerability in the North East of England than some of the areas that are supposedly going to be allowed to catch up.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness tweeted: “Please tell me this isn’t true. If it is, it’s an absolute disgrace.

“We have the best public health network/partnership in the country. Are they really going to penalise us for getting this right?!”

Dr Richard Vautrey, Chair of the British Medical Association GPs committee, said he understood that colleagues “will be frustrated” by the decision.

“But we also recognise that there is a need across the country to ensure that all over-80s, all in care homes get vaccinated and protected with the available vaccine we’ve secured,” he said.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the government has pledged to vaccinate everyone in the first four priority groups by the middle of February – including everyone over 70, care home staff and residents, and frontline health and social care workers.

BAPW expands membership beyond wholesalers

C&D, Beth Kennedy, 18 January 2016

In an exclusive interview with Chemist and Druggist, Martin Sawer explains that the rebranding of the BAPW as the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) aims to “better represent the future of medicines supply”. As part of this change, the Association will be opening up to non-wholesalers in the next month.

 

PSNC warns of ‘far larger’ funding cuts to come

C&D, Samuel Horti, 18 January 2016

Chemist and Druggist reports on PSNC chief executive, Sue Sharpe’s concerns that the Department of Health intends to close pharmacies with low dispensing volumes. Ms. Sharpe stated that the Department was withholding information and will not engage in negotiations until the full plans are provided.

This statement was also covered by Pharmacy BizThe Pharmaceutical Journal and Dispensing Doctors’ Association.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

 

There is no Parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

PSNC THREATENS TO STOP TALKS WITH NHS ENGLAND OVER LACK OF DETAIL

Pharmacy Biz, Neil Trainis, 18 January 2016

The furore generated by the government’s plan to reduce community pharmacy funding threatens to boil over after PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe accused NHS England of withholding information about the sector’s funding, sparking fears it intends to introduce even bigger cuts for 2017-18 and leading pharmacy’s negotiator to insist it will not commence talks until ministers reveal their true intentions for the sector.

In a strongly worded letter to Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, and Will Cavendish, director general, innovation, growth and technology at the Department of Health, Sharpe (pictured) underlined the negotiating body’s concerns over the government’s long-term plans for pharmacy, and lack of detail surrounding them, in unequivocal fashion.

In the letter she accused the government of “ignoring entirely the substantial evidence” of the value of commissioning community pharmacy services and said her request for pharmacy figures “in the NHS allocations for subsequent years” had fallen on deaf ears despite being told during a meeting on January 11 by NHS England and DoH officials that the request had been passed on to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

That meeting was attended by Ridge, Cavendish as well as Jeannette Howe and Liz Woodeson from the DoH and Deborah Jaines of NHS England.

The lack of a response, Sharpe wrote, led the PSNC to fear the government’s intention was to introduce a cut “far larger” than the £170 million for 2016-17 as outlined in a letter  signed by Ridge to Sharpe last month.

“You stated in the course of the meeting that the reason you decided to publish the letter was to make it clear that the figure for funding for 2016/17, a reduction of £170m, will not change,” Sharpe wrote.

“You raised my prior request for the community pharmacy figures in the NHS allocations for subsequent years and said you were seeking consent from the Secretary of State to making those figures available for PSNC’s meeting on January 12 and 13.

“We heard nothing subsequently, and as I anticipated, when it met PSNC felt it was being deprived of information essential for it to have a proper consultation.

“Contractors have noted your intention to implement the funding cuts from October 2016, ostensibly to give “pharmacies time to prepare for this change.” We fear you aim for a cut far larger than the 6% stated in the letter, in 2017/18.

“You will understand how this withholding of material highly relevant to our ability to consider and understand the government’s aims further erodes PSNC’s confidence, and that of the contractors we represent, in the process.”

Sharpe also expressed her concern that the government had not made clear how it intends to develop and cultivate a “clinically focused community pharmacy service” as described in the Ridge letter and cast doubt over the proposed Pharmacy Integration Fund which she suggested would not benefit community pharmacy.

“The letter refers twice to the need for a ‘clinically focused community pharmacy service,’ but is entirely silent on how this would be achieved, and you have confirmed that there are no plans to consider further service development in 2016/17 that could make progress towards this ambition, which of course has been our aim for many years, and was integral to the structure of the CPCF in 2005,” she wrote.

“When we met you referred me to the two paragraphs in your letter, headed ‘Pharmacy at the heart of the NHS.’ I have re-read these and they contain nothing whatsoever that contributes positively to driving forward a clinically focused community pharmacy service.

“There is reference to the proposed Pharmacy Integration Fund. This will not be specifically for community pharmacy and given the current drive to develop the role of pharmacists working in general practice we expect that this will overwhelmingly be directed towards increasing opportunities for those other than community pharmacies.”

There was also grave concern about the government’s desire as set out in the Ridge letter to reduce the number of community pharmacies. Once again, Sharpe cited a lack of detail around the plans and accused the government of pressing ahead without evaluating the importance of the care provided by pharmacies.

“Neither you nor Jeannette or Deborah in previous meetings have been prepared to elaborate to allow us to understand your proposals or the rationale for them,” Sharpe wrote.

“You referred to analysis and modelling but have not made this available to us, so PSNC could not examine your plans. Nor will you state how many pharmacies you expect or intend will close.”

She added: “I have been able to elicit that the aim is to seek to reduce the number of low dispensing pharmacies and to reduce the number of pharmacies “in a cluster.” No evaluation of the care provided by a pharmacy should be based on such a crude measure as dispensing volume, but there has been nothing to suggest you have examined the levels of advice or other elements of the pharmacy service provided by these pharmacies, such as provision of compliance aid dispensing and support for self-care.

“It seems clear that you are proposing to drive ahead to radically change the market with a real paucity of knowledge essential for good decision-making.”

Echoing her criticisms last month in the wake of the Ridge letter, Sharpe said the government wanted to “drive patients to a commoditised supply service which bypasses the access to the support and advice available in their local pharmacy.”

Sharpe also questioned whether the government had assessed the impact of its proposal to increase the duration of prescriptions on “an increasingly fragile supply chain and the consequent risk to patients of pharmacies being unable to supply prescribed medicines.”

“If so, we would like to see it because we believe this is a very damaging consequence of this limb of your policy,” she wrote.

Sharpe’s letter pointed to a straining of relations between the PSNC and the government and that was fuelled by the PSNC chief executive’s closing remarks in which she insisted the collaboration “is challenged by what seems very clearly to be ill-informed policy driven by an equally ill-informed view that there is surplus funding that can be extracted from the sector.”

Sharpe added: “Following the PSNC meeting I advised Jeannette and Deborah that we cannot agree to commence negotiations before we have had an opportunity to understand fully your plans and the analysis underpinning them. We believe we are entitled to this material but it has not been forthcoming.”

 

PSNC refuses to negotiate until government shares plans for community pharmacy

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 18 January 2016

Community pharmacy negotiators are refusing to negotiate with the government over its planned 6% cut in community pharmacy funding in England until it has seen details of the government’s long-term plans and the evidence behind them.

The move comes as the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) voiced its fears that the government is deliberately keeping it in the dark about deeper cuts to come.

“We cannot agree to commence negotiations before we have had an opportunity to understand fully your plans and the analysis underpinning them,” says PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe in a letter to England’s chief pharmaceutical officer on 15 January 2016. “We believe we are entitled to this material but it has not been forthcoming. The government appears to have a settled intention to proceed on a course of action that will run counter to its stated ambition to develop a clinically focused pharmacy service, and be damaging to patient care.”

She tells Keith Ridge that the PSNC is worried that the government is planning much deeper spending cuts in 2017–2018 than the 6% already planned for 2016, after the health secretary failed to provide the PSNC with details of contractual funding beyond 2016 in time for its January PSNC meeting.

Sharpe says the 6% cut will force pharmacies to cut staff and damage patient confidence in the profession; the PSNC is also suspicious of government plans to create more online pharmacy services.

The government policy is “ill-informed… driven by an equally ill-informed view that there is surplus funding that can be extracted from the sector”, she adds.

 

DH warned against ‘commoditised’ medicines supply

DDA, Ailsa Colquhoun, 19 January 2016

The Department of Health has been warned against creating a “commoditised medicines supply service”.

English pharmacy contract negotiator PSNC has voiced concerns that new pharmaceutical services policy could bypass access to community pharmacies, and reduce the viability of the current pharmacy network.

In a written response to the community pharmacy funding cuts announced before Christmas, PSNC criticises Government ambitions to reduce the number of low dispensing pharmacies and to reduce the number of ‘clustered’ pharmacies – despite the promise of a new Pharmacy Access Scheme. This proposes new funding for multiple hundreds of pharmacies that offer benefit due to their location and the local health needs.

The pharmacy contract negotiator also denounces proposals to increase the duration of prescriptions. It says rather than optimise prescription duration, longer prescribing periods “could encourage waste”. There are also implications for the supply chain, which PSNC describes as “increasingly fragile” with a consequent risk to patients “of pharmacies being unable to supply prescribed medicines”.

Dispensing practices concerned about the potential effect on GP dispensing services are advised to read this letter from DDA chairman Dr Richard West, published yesterday. This points out that the DDA is being consulted formally about these changes proposed for community pharmacy in England, even though it is not clear at this point whether the changes will affect dispensing practices. Practices are asked to be aware of the consultation taking place, and the DDA’s intention to shape the outcome in the best interests of our members and their patients.

PSNC’s letter also reveals its expectation that £20 million in ‘pharmacy integration’ funding will be used to develop the role of pharmacists working in general practice. PSNC has told pharmacists that the Department has no plans to consider further community pharmacy clinical service development in 2016/17 and that the assumption is “that the care, advice and support community pharmacies give to their patients can be provided by pharmacists in general practices”. PSNC adds: “This is wrong.” Pharmacists are also warned to expect funding cuts from 2017-18 that are “far larger than the 6% stated in the letter”.

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?