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Vaccination

Contractors can ‘proactively approach’ trusts to secure staff COVID-19 vaccinations, say pharmacy negotiators

An NHS England letter has confirmed that community pharmacy staff are within the category of frontline staff eligible for a coronavirus vaccination.

Open access article

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

To learn more about coronavirus, please visit: https://www.rpharms.com/resources/pharmacy-guides/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

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Source: Source: Photofusion Picture Library / Alamy

Healthcare staff eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination include community pharmacy staff, as well as “temporary, locum or ‘bank’ staff … students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients”

Pharmacy contractors can “proactively approach” clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and NHS Trusts to secure staff vaccinations, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

The PSNC previously confirmed that community pharmacy staff are included in the category of frontline health and social care staff, who are the second priority cohort eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

In a statement on its website, the PSNC said: “NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed that community pharmacy staff are within the category of frontline health and social care staff eligible for a coronavirus vaccination.

“NHS communication on the process for this is pending but, in the meantime, contractors and LPCs [local pharmaceutical committees] may proactively approach local CCGs [clinical commissioning groups] and NHS Trusts in efforts to secure vaccinations. PSNC is aware of some areas that have already embarked on such discussions.”

And in a letter sent to hospital trusts and primary care networks, NHS England has clarified that locum workers are also included in the cohort of NHS staff eligible to receive a vaccine.

The letter, sent on 7 January 2021, said there was an “immediate requirement to vaccinate frontline health and social care workers”.

NHS staff will be vaccinated at hospital trusts, all of which “will be established as ‘hospital hubs’ and the default provider of COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare and social care workers” by mid-January 2021.

“This is critical to ensure we protect health and care workers, patients and the public at a time when COVID-19 pressures across health and care are intensifying,” the letter said.

The letter lists staff eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, including “temporary, locum or ‘bank’ staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients”.

“Hospital hubs will be the default provider for vaccination of all health and social care workers as they have available capacity to offer vaccinations now,” the letter continues.

“Local systems may wish to develop alternative local arrangements with vaccination centres (which are being mobilised from 11 January), or GP and Community Pharmacy-run local vaccination centres.”

Vaccination sites led by community pharmacies are expected to start administering vaccines from the week beginning 11 January 2021, with prime minister Boris Johnson telling parliament that the government had signed up “hundreds” of pharmacies to run sites.

The General Pharmaceutical Council has proposed limiting the role of provisionally registered pharmacists in pharmacy-led COVID-19 vaccination services, potentially barring them from taking on the role of responsible pharmacist (RP).

Council papers due be discussed at an extra meeting to be held on 8 January 2021 said that because “provisionally registered pharmacists have not yet been able to take and pass the registration assessment and are consequently already required to practise under the guidance and direction of a senior pharmacist, it would not be appropriate for them to be the RP for the delivery of the vaccine.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2021.20208719

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