To receive an update on pharmacy services.
Kevin Barnes, Contractor Support Officer, Thames Valley LPC, and David Dean, Chief Executive Officer, Thames Valley LPC provided a presentation on pharmacy services during the pandemic.
During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:
· The Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) was a statutory body and was the local organisation for community pharmacy, covering Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It was an independent, representative group and not for profit. The local LPC was a very small team.
· A very small amount from prescriptions went towards to the LPC’s upkeep and some of the money from those funds went towards the national negotiating committee that worked with the Department of Health and the NHS to help negotiate national services such as the flu jab service.
· The LPC worked with NHS England Area Teams, the CCGs, local authorities and other healthcare services to help plan local healthcare services.
· The LPC negotiated and discussed pharmacy services with commissioners and was available to give advice to local pharmacy contractors and others. It liaised closely with their medical equivalents the Local Medical Committee so that GPs and pharmacists could work together to deliver the best services to patients.
· It was confirmed that pharmacy funding was received from the Department of Health.
· David Dean advised Members that during the pandemic 95% of pharmacies had been open consistently. There had initially been some issues around staffing and ensuring staff safety and that customers queued safely.
· Community and ensuring a good service for local residents was a massive part of what pharmacy did. Many pharmacists knew and understood their patient base.
· Pharmacists could offer advice to the public and training for pharmacists was rigorous.
· There were 264 pharmacies in Thames Valley, 72 of which were in Berkshire West.
· Councillor Frewin asked about what impact the pandemic had had on pharmacy. David Dean stated that lockdown had been somewhat of a surprise to pharmacy, as with many other services and initially the service had been quite overwhelmed. Patients had wanted to make sure that they had sufficient medication and some pharmacies had received scripts for much larger amounts than usual, which had created issues with supply chains. Some pharmacies had struggled with regards to manpower if staff became ill or had had to care for children who were out of school. Many initial issues had been resolved by April and May.
· Members were advised that pharmacy had been given £300 per pharmacy to cover Covid measures such as putting up plastic screens in the stores. The Pharmacy Funding model was complex; the pharmacy had to pay in advance for stock and only received payment 3 months after a prescription for the relevant medication was presented. Many pharmacies were in debt. Whilst the Government had advanced funds for 2 months, these funds would need to be repaid. In Oxfordshire 5% of all pharmacies had been lost in the last 4 months due to financial pressures.
· Councillor Frewin went on to ask about pharmacy involvement in Track and Trace and was informed that there was none.
· In response to a question from Councillor Frewin, regarding plans for a vaccine against Covid 19, David Dean stated that in terms of preparedness, pharmacy had been working hard to prepare for a possible second wave of the virus. It was not known when a vaccine would be available but pharmacy would be on the front line with other health services, helping to deliver any vaccine as it became available.
· A strong flu season was expected and 20,000 vaccines had already been delivered in the first two weeks, approximately double usual figures. Whilst the Government had promised additional flu vaccines for later in the year, it was possible that there may still be supply issues.
· Councillor Bishop Firth asked about flu vacations in care homes. Kevin Barnes commented that about 20% of flu vaccines had been delivered already and 86% of those had been given to those over aged over 65. He was unsure at present how many of these had been delivered in care homes and how many had been delivered to walk in patients in pharmacies. GPs took primary responsibility for delivering flu vaccines within care homes.
· David Dean emphasised that this year a 100% take up of flu jabs amongst care home staff was encouraged. It was important that care home managers made sure that their staff took up this offer. He suggested that this was something that the Council could help to publicise and encourage. The previous year approximately half of staff had received a flu jab.
· Councillor Bishop Firth asked whether flu jabs were free for care home staff and was informed that they were. They were also free for all domestic carers, shielded patients and those living in the same household.
· Councillor Jones asked whether any pharmacies in the Borough had closed recently. David Dean commented that Lloyds in Woodley had closed in February. Pharmacy was under great financial pressure, like many other businesses and funding had not changed for the last 6 years.
· Councillor Loyes asked how many pharmacies there were in Wokingham and how pharmacy locally could cope with future demand, should some pharmacies go out of business, and the local population increased. It was confirmed that there were 21 pharmacies in the Borough. David Dean stated that the way that people got their prescriptions was changing and there was a big push, in particular from some of the larger companies, to move online. It was important that those services which could not be offered online were continued to be supported and also all those patients who did not have access to online facilities.
· Councillor Loyes asked how LPC worked with contractors. David Dean stated that it represented all contractors and was there to provide help and support.
· Councillor Swaddle questioned whether pharmacists were considered key workers with regards to receiving priority tests for Covid 19. She was informed that they were.
· In response to a Member question about staff levels during the pandemic the Committee was informed that there was a healthy locum population. PPE had been an issue initially but was now less so. David Deans thanked the volunteer groups in Wokingham for their assistance in delivering prescriptions during lockdown.
· Councillor Mather asked about the continued provision of nomad packs. David Dean indicated that the making up of nomad packs was complex and time consuming. It was important that those who needed them continued to receive them. However, it was possible that some patients who had received them in the past may not have had all other possible alternative options, such as large print labels, discussed with them. In addition, NICE and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society advice was that if medication was removed from its original packaging it was no longer possible to guarantee its efficacy. Councillor Mather asked who Councillors could contact should a resident complain about the removal of the nomad pack service. David Dean stated that every community pharmacy had access to an assessment form. A pack had also been put together to help contractors to make decisions. Nomad packs and free prescription delivery were undertaken on a purely goodwill basis by the individual pharmacies.
· Members were informed of the LPC website. Kevin Barnes and David Dean agreed to come back to a future meeting of the Committee.
1) Kevin Barnes and David Dean be thanked for their presentation;
2) the presentation be noted.