PSNC presses for COVID booster role and LFT resolution

PSNC has reiterated its strong desire that more pharmacies should be approved as COVID vaccination centres this week.

Both in discussions with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and through the national media, PSNC has pressed the NHS to enable more community pharmacies to help deliver COVID booster vaccinations. If boosters are to become business as usual, pharmacies are the logical place to deliver those, and many more pharmacies could also have helped with the current ambitious booster programme.

On Thursday, The Telegraph reported PSNC’s view that the NHS had made a tactical error in rejecting many thousands of applications from pharmacies.

Separately, the Guardian also ran a story on this topic, citing Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup who confirmed that while contractors had put forward 5,376 sites to become vaccination centres, only 1,451 were approved – just a 27% success rate.

Alastair Buxton, PSNC’s Director of NHS Services, said:

“Pharmacy owners are at a loss to understand why nearly 4,000 sites which they felt could offer COVID vaccinations are not now being used to do so – this could help meet the Prime Minister’s targets, ease pressure on General Practice, and help improve accessibility for the public. We urge the NHS to revisit its policy on pharmacy vaccination sites and allow more pharmacies to play their part in this ongoing national health emergency.”

PSNC has also briefed politicians on this topic and Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, submitted a number of written parliamentary questions about the sector’s involvement in delivering booster vaccinations.

Supply of lateral flow tests

On a separate COVID issue, PSNC has also been speaking to national media journalists about the situation re. COVID lateral flow tests, alongside our urgent discussions on the matter with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

We have been very concerned to hear of the abuse that some pharmacy teams have faced from patients and members of the public anxious to obtain Lateral Flow Test (LFTs) and we were keen to get across the message that any supply issues are not the fault of pharmacy teams. Our conversations on this led to a front-page story in The Telegraph on Wednesday, followed by a story in iNews, also picked by The Mirror on Thursday.

In our statements to the press, PSNC has made clear that pharmacies have no way to order tests beyond their usual daily cap.

The latest information from our discussions with UKHSA is available here.

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