Update on COVID-related Services and Provisions
Several COVID-related services and provisions were due to either end or be reviewed on 30th June 2021. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has today confirmed the details of extensions to some of these.
Pandemic Delivery Service
A further extension of the period of commissioning of the Pandemic Delivery Service for people who have been notified of the need to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace has been agreed until 23:59 on 30th September 2021.
This service is only available to people during their ten-day self-isolation period and who can provide their NHS Test and Trace Account ID when requesting the service (people are provided a unique NHS Test and Trace Account ID when they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace).
Provision of the service to Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) patients ended on 31st March 2021, when shielding for that group of patients was paused; contractors should therefore not be submitting any claims for delivery for this group of patients.
COVID-19 Test Distribution Service
The service is currently being reviewed and NHS Test and Trace, the DHSC, and NHSE&I have worked with PSNC to agree some changes which will be introduced later in the summer. All parties are currently working on the practical details of how these changes to the service will be introduced; information on the changes will be communicated to pharmacy contractors as soon as possible.
In the meantime, the service continues to be commissioned, as set out in the service specification until 29th August 2021, after which time, it is expected that changes to the service requirements will be introduced.
Flexible Provision of Pharmaceutical Services
The declaration of an emergency requiring the flexible provision of pharmaceutical services which was introduced to help maintain pharmacy services during the COVID-19 outbreak, has been extended to 30th September 2021.
This means that contractors are still allowed to make temporary changes to opening hours or temporary closures where adequate reasons for these changes have been provided to NHSE&I, giving NHSE&I 24 hours’ notice of these changes and there is no objection to the changes by NHSE&I.
Contractors, in the absence of a response from NHSE&I, after they have given 24 hours’ notice, may start the flexible provision of opening hours. However, contractors must return to normal opening hours if their request is subsequently refused by NHSE&I.
Patient’s Signature on Prescriptions
The DHSC have agreed to extend the temporary suspension of the requirement for patients (or their representatives) to sign the back of NHS prescription forms and/or EPS tokens until 31st August 2021.
Whilst the suspension of signature requirements remains in place, contractors are not required to submit EPS tokens (other than those used for SSP claims) to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA).
The temporary suspension will be lifted as soon as it is deemed safe for patients to resume signing forms.