PDA Pandemic Series Update – 30 May 2020

With each edition, we aim to bring to your attention important issues either those that we are working on or general background information that helps you with your practice.

Sat 30th May 2020 The PDA

In this issue:

  • National Carers Week: 8 – 14 June 2020
  • Pharmacist Video Consultation Trial
  • Being “Left to Die”
  • Hydroxychloroquine, Chloroquine and COVID-19: A further update
  • COVID-19 Antibody Test
  • Pharmacy and Medicines Support to Care Homes: Urgent System-Wide Delivery Model
  • How palliative care has moved to the frontline during the COVID-19 crisis

National Carers Week: 8 – 14 June 2020

Every pharmacy will have carers who may come to collect prescriptions, buy OTC medicines or ask for advice on persons they are caring for. Most carers are unpaid relatives or friends. The COVID-19 pandemic may have increased the care individuals have had to provide (for example to shield very high-risk individuals). This campaign highlights the support that carers themselves may need. The carer may even be a pharmacy team member. Click the below link for more information about National Carers Week, including downloadable posters.
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Pharmacist Video Consultation Trial

Two community pharmacies in Scotland are currently taking part in the “NHS Near Me” video consultation service. Access to healthcare professionals in rural areas of Scotland has been a challenging issue even before COVID-19. Where internet connectivity may be an issue for a video call, the service may be offered by way of a telephone consultation. Discussions are taking place to roll out this service to all pharmacies in Scotland. Read more about the history and thinking which led to the current “NHS Near Me” service being offered through pharmacies and other similar virtual consultations.

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Being “Left to Die”

This is the shocking feeling experienced by many BAME staff that work in frontline patient care (the video link focuses on the hospital setting but the underlying issues resonate universally across all healthcare facilities including UK pharmacies). Approximately 43% of the pharmacist workforce falls within a BAME category. You can watch the short video aired on Channel 4 here.

Public Health England has been asked by the DHSC to investigate the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on persons from a BAME background. In advance of their report and guidance, on a precautionary basis, NHS England has recommended that all employers should risk-assess staff at potentially greater risk and make appropriate arrangements accordingly.

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Hydroxychloroquine, Chloroquine and COVID-19: A further update

Following the publication in the Lancet of a registry analysis from 641 hospitals across 6 continents the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has now temporarily paused trials involving hydroxychloroquine and quinine. The WHO reiterated that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.

You can read more about data published in the Lancet here.

You can read the statement by the Director-General of WHO here.

COVID-19 Antibody Test

There has been some confusion about an antibody “home testing kit” that is licensed by the MHRA and which has been offered for sale by certain online pharmacies.

Abbott has stated: “The test is not intended for use as a home test and it should not be conducted with a finger stick blood sample. When used appropriately with a venous blood sample, the Abbott test has demonstrated 99.6% specificity and 100% sensitivity to detect IgG antibodies for patients tested 14 days after symptoms started.”

You can read the full Abbott statement here.

It is unclear how the MHRA envisages pharmacies to conduct antibody tests as it has explicitly identified Pharmacies as a “target use setting”.

You can read the MHRA “Target Product Profile” for antibody tests here.

Pharmacy and Medicines Support to Care Homes: Urgent System-Wide Delivery Model

The Special Pharmacy Service (SPS), an entity within NHS England, has announced a model for pharmacist to provide medicines support to patients in care homes. It proposed, in a letter dated 1st May 2020, “This model should be established as soon as possible, and within a fortnight at the latest in order to support residents as quickly as possible.” The SPS also proposed that pharmacists who may recently have enrolled on a CPPE course may carry out structured medication reviews for “some residents” in light of the COVID-19 emergency.

You can read more about the SPS model proposal for structured medicine reviews here.

You can view the letter sent to GPs, PCNs and others regarding this service which had to be implemented within a fortnight here.

We will publish a more detailed assessment of this model shortly.

How palliative care has moved to the frontline during the COVID-19 crisis

During the COVID-19 crisis, patients are receiving end-of-life care in greater numbers in places where death occurs infrequently and delivered by staff who may lack experience in palliative care. Patients dying during the pandemic may experience challenging symptoms with the added pressure of not having their family and friends around them at the end of their lives.

The Association of Supportive and Palliative Care Pharmacy (ASPCP) is an association for pharmacy professionals working to improve the care of people affected by life-limiting disease. The ASPCP has evolved over 30 years or more, initially as the Hospice Pharmacists Association then as the Palliative Care Pharmacists Network through to today’s inclusive organisation for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Most members are from the UK with an increasing number internationally.

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