The BMA has published a COVID-19 toolkit for dispensing GPs.
This states that legislation has been passed enabling NHSE/CCGs to authorise dispensing practices in England to dispense to all patients (including formerly non-dispensing patients) during a pharmacy closure and until 31 March 2021.
However, the regulations make clear that NHS England must first commission dispensing doctors to do so and until then, this could constitute a breach of the contract.
In Wales, health boards are expected to work with pharmacies to ensure business continuity plans. Any closure should be short term and the GPhC has provided advice to pharmacies about activities which can continue in the absence of a pharmacist. The Welsh dispensing regulations have not been updated despite BMA requests.
Subject to approval by local NHSE organisations and/or CCGs, we expect practices in England to be able to dispense during bank holidays if pharmacies are closed.
In doing so, practices should have regard to how practical it is for a non-dispensing patient to access an open pharmacy.
The BMA advises that the option to dispense is used only when non-dispensing patients are struggling to obtain their medication from their normal pharmacy, for example, when patients are being asked to self-isolate at home due to symptoms of COVID-19 and medications are needed to treat them.
Dispensing practices are asked to contact their CCG and LMC for clarification, but prescriptions dispensed to non-dispensing patients should be accounted for, and submitted for pricing, in the usual way.
Agreement has been reached with the Scottish Government that no practice in Scotland will face any financial detriment as a result of COVID-19 and that this explicitly includes dispensing practices. It has also been agreed that payment on account will be based on 100% of the sum due. These measures are set out in a revised statement of financial entitlements.