Closures: Health board confirms some pharmacy contractors are not reporting their closures to the NHS

A Scottish Health board has confirmed that there is evidence some pharmacy contractors are not reporting their closures to the NHS, despite this being a requirement of their contract.

Fri 20th August 2021 The PDA

A communication sent to community pharmacies in Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirms that the NHS became aware of three closures in that area that week, only due to “third parties” notifying them, despite self-notification of closures being a requirement of the pharmacy contract.

It isn’t known if there were also other unreported closures where no third party notified that NHS health board that week, but at least three confirmed in just one health board area, in just one seven-day period should be significant enough for concern.

As scientists, pharmacists are used to dealing with facts and if contractors are not reporting their own closures, the job of the NHS in understanding and addressing the causes of closures is undermined.  Of those who first used the PDA’s tool to advise the union of closures, less than 8% think all temporary closures are reported to the local NHS Health Board by pharmacy contractors and less than 6% think the local NHS monitors and manages this well.

The communication sent on 10 August, which also highlights the “significant impact on direct patient care and access to medicines” caused by closures in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, said:

 

Unplanned closures/Late opening/Early closures (more than 15 minutes)

Over the last four or five weeks, a perfect storm of self isolation requirements, positive COVID testing, routine annual leave and the lack of available pharmacists (amongst other things) has caused an escalation to short-notice closures/late opening/early closing incidents within the community pharmacy network in NHS GGC.

This is now having a significant impact on direct patient care and access to medicines.

There is a clear duty on pharmacy contractors to ensure they provide services in line with their contractual arrangements with the Health Board, however we accept that the current pressures may cause contractors to make difficult decisions in terms of service provision.

For the most part, where a pharmacy is effected, the contractor follows the established procedure which allows the Community Pharmacy Development Team (CPDT) to log the event and make sure relevant healthcare colleagues are informed.

Over the last week however on three separate occasions, we were not aware of the closure until notified by a third party. 

I am once again providing a reminder of the process that must be followed if your pharmacy has to close outwith normal contracted hours for any reason:

  1. The CPDT must be notified immediately, details should be emailed to: ggc.cpdevteam@ggc.scot.nhs.uk or contact any of the numbers below

0141-201-6041/6042/6046/6047/6049/6054

  1. You must advise the time you will close and the reason for it
  2. You must confirm when you will reopen
  3. You must display a notice on your window/door informing patients of the details of the their next nearest pharmacies (a template can be found at the link below)
  4. If applicable, arrangements must be put in place for patients receiving Opioid Substitution Therapies who are still due in that day.
  5. Arrangements must be put in place for prescriptions that are still to be collected.
  6. Ensure local prescribers are aware of the closure including GP practices, Substance Misuse Services and any other specialist services.

You will be asked to confirm that you have made arrangement for Points 4-7 when contacting the CPDT.

Please note: This process must be followed even for those pharmacies who are part of multiple chains and who may have their own company processes to follow.

Further details can be found via: https://www.communitypharmacy.scot.nhs.uk/nhs-boards/nhs-greater-glasgow-clyde/

Thank you for your continued co-operation.

 

The issue of closures is increasingly being discussed on social, print and broadcast media and this is a growing issue for the public, politicians, and taxpayers. The PDA believe that the consequences for those contractors that breach the NHS contract should be made public.

If it is shown that contractors could have been open, but have “decided” to close, and have also failed to notify the NHS in line with their contract, it will undoubtedly damage the reputation of pharmacy and therefore pharmacists.  These incidents risk undermining the great work being done by many in the sector to help pharmacy reach its full potential as part of the NHS.

The PDA continues to call upon employers, and their representative bodies, to take this situation seriously and honour the NHS Contract which they have committed to deliver.

Meanwhile, in order to understand the scale and potential causes of  this issue, the PDA is asking pharmacists to help collate information about when and where these closures are occurring, using an online tool.  This notifies the PDA of the details; contractors remain separately obliged to notify the NHS of their closures.

REPORT A CLOSURE NOW

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