By Joanne Ellul
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is calling for national strategies to be established which define specifically the role of community pharmacy in a flu pandemic.
Barbara Parsons, head of pharmacy practice at the PSNC, said that in discussions with the DoH, ‘the use of community pharmacies as vaccination points has been raised.' She added: ‘Many pharmacies have already stepped in to help PCTs by agreeing to act as collection points for antiviral drugs.'
She said that the arrangements for such additional services are devolved to a local level.
‘It is the responsibility of each PCT to determine what services are required, and whether or not to commission community pharmacies to deliver them,' Ms Parsons said.
The PSNC has called for national funding arrangements and says it is in discussion with the DoH about this.
Ms Parsons explained that pharmacies have also seen an increase in the number of patients seeking advice, especially as there has been greater referral to community pharmacies from NHS Direct. Greater flexibilities due to be introduced with new emergency legislation will also add to the workload, she added.
Effective national planning is essential to ensure that pharmacists' increased workload will not impact on other services, such as treating patients with minor ailments or long-term conditions. The PSNC urged that pharmacists need the right to withdraw without penalty if demands become too high and impact on other services.
Parsons said that ‘as with antiviral distribution, the PSNC has already agreed a national service specification with the DoH for seasonal flu vaccination and pharmacies have been involved in the winter programmes for some time. The national pandemic flu programme is still under discussion.'
* Should pharmacists have national funding for their flu role?
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