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DDA webinar reveals poor take-up of ‘dispense to all’ Pandemic provisions

15 per cent of webinar delegates said they did not receive necessary permission

April 30th 2020

Tagged: DDA news Conference news COVID19

By Ailsa Colquhoun

The first DDA webinar, co-hosted with the Best Practice conference and exhibition, has revealed poor take-up of the emergency dispensing legislation announced during the recent Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

In a poll taken during the webinar, 15 per cent of participants said they were not given permission by local NHS officials to ‘dispense to all’ patients when local pharmacies were closed. According to DDA chairman Dr Richard West, who chaired the webinar, application of this provision would decrease non-essential journeys by patients who require medicines. He said: “It is wholly appropriate that acute medication should be dispensed when pharmacies are closed.”

During the webinar, a further 47 per cent of participants said they had no reason to use the emergency provision and 38 per cent of participants said they didn’t know about it. It is possble that the legislation may again be required during the May Day Bank Holiday (this year on Friday 8 May) when practices may be required to open while pharmacies are closed.

Part 61 of the NHS Pharmaceutical Services regulations (England) 2013 covers: Temporary arrangements during emergencies or circumstances beyond the control of a dispensing doctor.

The legislation reads: “If the emergency requires the flexible provision of pharmaceutical services, the NHSCB may require a dispensing doctor to provide pharmaceutical services (“temporary services”) to patients to whom the dispensing doctor is not otherwise entitled to provide pharmaceutical services”. This will be for a limited period of up to six months.

Part 61 also allows the commissioning board to grant temporary premises approval because there is an emergency requiring the flexible provision of pharmaceutical services.

In a recent Parliamentary exchange, innovation minister Lord Bethell confirmed that NHSE/I regional teams will determine their own requirements under Part 61. An example is the Vale of York/North Yorkshire CCG guidance letter, which allows dispensing GPs to dispense to all if no community pharmacy services are open within reasonable travel time, and in a risk-assessed way, for example:

  • Urgent treatment within one hour: if a patient needs to start treatment within an hour and this would not be possible through local pharmacy dispensing, then the dispensing practice may wish to dispense in the best interests of patient care
  • Urgent treatment within same day: if a patient needs to start treatment that day and there will be no local pharmacy services available for the rest of that day, then the dispensing practice may wish to dispense in the best interests of patient care.

In total, the webinar attracted over 460 registrants and covered hints and tips on managing shortages and cash flow problems caused by increased dispensing, managing volunteer-based medicines delivery services, processes for payment, and recommended measures to keep dispensary and delivery teams safe during the Pandemic.

The webinar recording is available online.

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