COVID-19 Update: Medicines delivery service & 111 Online CPCS referrals

This update provides information on today’s Government announcement of a prescription delivery service for shielded patients and the rollout of 111 Online referrals for urgently needed medicines across England.

Links to all key information on COVID-19 can be found on PSNC’s main COVID-19 hub page:

Medicines Delivery Service

Community pharmacy contractors will have seen the news today that HM Government and the NHS are to ask around 1.5million people who are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 infection to stay at home for a period of 12 weeks. This process is being described as shielding and people identified in the categories of patients that the Government would like to be shielded will receive a letter from the NHS in the next few days.

The following information is being provided to shielded patients in the letter from the NHS:

The government is helping pharmacies to deliver prescriptions. Prescriptions will continue to cover the same length of time as usual. If you do not currently have your prescriptions collected or delivered, you can arrange this by:

1. Asking someone who can pick up your prescription from the local pharmacy, (this is the best option, if possible);

2. Contacting your pharmacy to ask them to help you find a volunteer (who will have been ID checked) or deliver it to you.

You may also need to arrange for collection or delivery of hospital specialist medication that is prescribed to you by your hospital care team.

PSNC is currently concluding discussions with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) about a new national community pharmacy medicines delivery service to support this group of shielded patients.

We will issue full guidance to contractors as soon as we are able to and we anticipate the service will commence in the next few days.

Information that we can share about the service under negotiation are:

  • This will be a service commissioned nationally by NHSE&I, with associated changes to the Terms of Service for all pharmacies;
  • As noted in the letter to shielded patients, they will be asked in the first instance to have their medicines collected and delivered to them by friends, family or a volunteer, rather than being directed straight to the pharmacy provided delivery service;
  • Patients will be able to ask for support from volunteers, who are part of a national volunteer network which is being mobilised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Contractors will also be able to request support from volunteers to undertake deliveries of prescriptions to any patient, not just those that are being shielded.

Further information and guidance will be published as soon as possible.

NHS 111 Online CPCS Urgent Medication Referrals

From this weekend, the NHS 111 Online service will be making Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) referrals to community pharmacies where people need urgent access to their usual prescribed medicines.

This follows a successful pilot of urgent medicines referrals from NHS 111 Online into the CPCS across the north west of England. Earlier this year, the service was also switched on in Yorkshire, with plans agreed, as part of the 5-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework, to roll out the functionality across England early in 2020/21. These plans have been brought forward in response to the huge surge in demand for NHS 111 services and the direction for people to use the online service in the first instance.

For contractors and their teams, the CPCS consultation should be conducted in the normal way, as the source of the referral – NHS 111 telephony service or NHS 111 Online – makes no difference to the process which the pharmacist needs to follow with the patient.