NHSE&I guidance: Arrangements for primary care from 19th July 2021
Yesterday, following the move of England to step 4 of the Government’s COVID-19 response on Monday (19th July 2021), NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) issued a letter to all primary care contractors outlining their continuing expectations across primary care in relation to access, infection prevention and control, and continuing contractual arrangements.
COVID-19 infection protection and control (IPC) guidance
The letter notes that in its COVID-19 Response: Summer 2021, the Cabinet Office confirmed that:
“Health and care settings will continue to maintain appropriate infection prevention and control processes as necessary and this will be continually reviewed. Guidance will be updated based on the latest clinical evidence this summer.”
The NHSE&I letter notes that until further notice, the existing COVID-19 IPC guidance continues to apply in healthcare settings and all primary care contractors should continue to follow this guidance. The IPC guidance states:
“Patients in all care areas should still be encouraged and supported to wear a face mask, providing it is tolerated and is not detrimental to their medical or care needs”.
The NHSE&I letter states “contractors continue to have our support in enforcing the IPC guidance”.
IPC face covering resources for NHS settings, including specific posters for use in pharmacies, have also been published by Public Health England (PHE):
The letter confirms, as per previous contractor updates from NHSE&I, that community pharmacies need to fulfil all aspects of their terms of service for 2021/22.
It also reminds contractors that the declaration of emergency requiring the flexible provision of pharmaceutical services, was extended from 30th June to 30th September 2021. This allows contractors with adequate reason to request temporary opening hours (days or times) provided they give 24 hours’ notice to NHSE&I.
Withdrawal of COVID-19 SOP
The letter also confirms that the Community pharmacy in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) (Version 4) standard operating procedure (SOP) that has been in place since March 2020 was withdrawn on 19th July 2021.
CAS Alert: PPE and heat – risk of heat stress
A CAS alert was issued on 9th July 2021 and a reminder was issued on 20th July 2021 regarding the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) in warm/hot environments and the increased risk of heat stress.