From the latest conversations it is understood that NHS England & Improvement will treat Good Friday and Easter Monday as normal working days for their staff. GPs will be working ‘as usual’ and it is clear that NHSE&I will be requiring all community pharmacies to be open for a few hours on both those days as well.
It is likely that this requirement for community pharmacies to open for a few hours on both Good Friday and Easter Monday will be made via an announcement under the new coronavirus related NHS regulations that are part of the terms of service.
Our understanding of the rationale for this decision is that NHSE&I expect COVID-19 infection to increase during the Easter weekend and hospitals may well look to discharge as many non-COVID-19 patients as possible into the community to free up capacity. As a result, community pharmacy services will be required at this crucial time.
The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIM), the Company Chemists Association (CCA), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) have released the statement below, addressing pharmacy opening times over Easter.
“We understand that NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) are preparing to direct community pharmacies to treat the forthcoming Easter weekend ‘like any normal weekend’ and to open for at least some time on Good Friday and bank holiday Monday.
We expect NHSE&I to soon announce that the Secretary of State will use new powers granted to him last Friday under the National Health Service (Amendments Relating to the Provision of Primary Care Services During a Pandemic etc.) Regulations 2020. These regulations enable the NHS, with the agreement of Matt Hancock, to change the core hours of pharmacies in specified areas to include Good Friday and bank holidays.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, pharmacy teams have been working tirelessly to ensure the public can get the medicines and healthcare support that they desperately need. Despite immense pressure, community pharmacies have remained open to serve the public, keeping them well and away from hospital. We know that this Easter, as they do every year, several thousand pharmacies in England are already planning to open and provide care for their local communities.
We hope that any directive of the sector is based upon the clear evidence of a need for additional pharmacy care over and above that already planned. We are still awaiting the full details of the specific locations and hours that pharmacies will be expected to open across the Easter Weekend, and as we wait for clarity we will be supporting our members to ensure that they can provide pharmaceutical care wherever they can”.