March 2020
March 2020
Leyla Hannbeck
Dear Member,

As you are aware this month COVID-19 has been the main topic for discussion. This newsletter covers the most recent information related to this topic form a pharmacy perspective and includes some resources to support you with your pharmacy business continuity planning.

Unfortunately, due to the growing concerns about COVID-19 we have decided to cancel our member event on 23rd April. Our next event is on 2nd July. We will monitor the situation closely and will keep members and partners informed. Our website will be updated accordingly.

Topics covered in this newsletter:

• COVID-19
• Meeting with the Financial Secretary at the Treasury
• Patient safety update
• Information about apprenticeship funding
• Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) update

COVID-19 update and resources

On Thursday there was a cross sector forum on COVID-19. NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) provided updates on some of the plans regarding pharmacy. I have summarised some of the key points raised below:


• A big piece of work is going on by NHS England to identify who is considered ‘vulnerable patient’ and those patients may need to go through a longer isolation period. Plans are also being developed on how to treat vulnerable patients at home.

• NHS 111 algorithms have change to ensure patients with or at risk of COVID-19 are not referred to pharmacy – Boots highlighted increased numbers of CPCS referrals generally (not COVID-19 related).

• There will be further communications and guidance from Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Keith Ridge and NHS England to pharmacies over the coming weeks as to how things progress, including guidance on closures.

• Serious Shortages Protocol (SSP) for fluoxetine 10mg tablets has been issued and NHS England and DHSC will be monitoring any medicines shortages carefully.

• NHS England have scrapped the National Clinical Audit and are looking further to see how else they can cut the current red tape during this difficult period to free up capacity. This means that some of the new services may not be introduced this year, for example Hep C service will be delayed. Other services may be delayed too.

• The Personal Protective Equipment pack will be delivered to pharmacies by Monday (if not earlier) and should be used in line with the relevant SOP (there will be 50 masks, 200 disposable aprons, 100 pairs of gloves).

• Shortages of certain of products such as paracetamol were discussed, and it was highlighted that there is stock, but people are panic-buying and there is stockpiling going on.

• DHSC are keen to know if there should be any restrictions on OTC and hand sanitizers and soaps, would this be welcome by the sector? What are your thoughts?

• There will be similar monitoring of stockpiling etc as during Brexit.

• Electronic prescriptions are being promoted to ensure if surgeries are closed patients can get access to their medicines.

• In Devon NHSE&I have introduced an emergency supply (enhanced) service due to closure of GP practices – this will ensure patients can obtain their prescription medicines from community pharmacies. These supplies will be reimbursed and remunerated as if they were prescriptions; but because they are not on prescription, VAT applies, and the CCGs will be covering the costs.

• DHSC and NHS England have issued advice for GP practices that writing prescriptions for longer periods of time is not appropriate.

• PSNC are in discussions with DHSC and NHS England regarding pharmacy closures due to of COVID-19 and the financial support available. Further information to follow.

Other important information about COVID-19:

• The GPhC called me on Monday and let me know that doing some contingency planning. The regulator is currently reviewing their inspection model in light of COVID-19 with the view to potentially reduce them or take a lighter-touch approach during this period and emphasise on risk management and governance. They would like to see is for pharmacy professionals to be able to demonstrate that whatever decision they have made has been with the best interest of patients at heart.

• As you are aware the Chancellor announced on Wednesday that Government will cover the cost of statutory sick pay (SSP) for coronavirus-related absence for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, providing over £2 billion for up to two million businesses. This of course will not cover some of our members and we will be looking into this issue. They further confirmed that SSP will be available “to all those advised to self-isolate even if they haven’t yet presented with symptoms” – people would soon be able to obtain a sick note by contacting 111.

Over the next week AIM will be discussing with PSNC the series of proportionate measures that are and will be enacted to maintain stability of supply in all circumstances, but to bring an air of reality to the economic consequences of the problem.

COVID-19 business continuity support for members:

To make it easier for our members to plan for their business continuity during this tough time, I have included below (please scroll down to the end of this newsletter) an AIM COVID-19 – Support with Business Continuity Planning document that is very simple to use and highlights key areas to focus on and links to relevant guidelines. I have also included a link to the PSNC’s pharmacy business continuity template here:

There is also a template document with focus on delivery drivers that was kindly shared with me by one our members (scroll down to the end of this newsletter).

We will keep members informed of the rapid developments around COVID-19 and act as a forum for mutual-support if or as the crisis worsens.
Meeting with the Financial Secretary at the Treasury:

Following our letter to Treasury about the IR35 and off payroll tax, I was invited to attend a roundtable meeting chaired by Jesse Norman MP and Financial Secretary at the Treasury. Other attendees included HMRC representatives and CBI and the Institute of Chartered Accountants. The Secretary started by listening to concerns about the proposals. He was very welcoming of me and said to me it was a pleasure having pharmacy there and that “pharmacies are going to become huge in this country”. It seems IR35 is here to stay but HMRC have a lot of work to do regarding fine-tuning the final legislation which is to be laid out by 6th April and consider all the feedback we gave.

The Secretary mentioned that we (those present around the Roundtable) will be engaged with regarding any communication to ensure inclusivity. The discussions are ongoing, and I will be keeping you updated.

This is the first-time pharmacy has found its way in the Treasury and we now have a great opportunity to build on this.

Patient Safety Update:

I highlighted in my February newsletter that AIM has appointed a Medicines Safety Officer (MSO) to support members by highlighting patient safety matters and represent AIM members with 50 and less branches on the cross-sector Patient Safety Group (PSG). Claude Pereira from Britannia pharmacy group has taken up that role.

I also highlighted previously that we have teamed up with PharmaSmart to offer dispensing incident reporting platform, including National alert tracking at no cost to AIM members. This is combined with a company-based analysis of incidents (also at no cost). The platform was presented at the Superintendent Forum on Monday and the feedback from superintendents was very positive. This is part of our commitment to support you as members. To register and login to start reporting patient safety incidents and receive your company specific reports on patient safety matters please click here to find the link on our website under support: https://www.aimp.co.uk/home

There will be a regular patient safety updates, including relevant data and analysis reports, and news from PSG covered in our newsletter from April onwards.

Information about apprenticeship funding:

AIM would like our members to benefit from the apprenticeship funding as much as possible to allow training budgets to stretch further. 78%* of employers state that hiring an apprentice improves productivity, which is especially important in challenging times, and 90%* of apprentices stay with the company following an apprenticeship, meaning continued value from the programme. If you want to know more about this please do not hesitate to let me know and we will put you in touch with experts in this area to provide you with further guidance.

FMD update:

SecurMed UK, the organisation that was set up to look after the UK national repository for the FMD safety features requirements, has published communication updates about:
• Product not found Alert – Change in procedure
• Password renewal

These updates can be found on their website here: https://www.securmed.org.uk/news/

I hope you have found this newsletter useful. If you have any feedback, queries or comments please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Kind regards,


Leyla Hannbeck FRPharmS, MBA, MSc, MA
Chief Executive
Tel: 0750 8932868
Email: Leyla.hannbeck@aimp.co.uk
Website: https://www.aimp.co.uk

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