Covid-19 – 4th March 2020

Please note that all the government communications will be sent to your shared NHS mailbox.

The SOP should be shared with all staff, and includes guidance on when to use PPE, when and how to decontaminate your designated isolation space and how to quarantine waste.

Pharmacy staff who have been in contact with a suspected case are not required to self-isolate unless directed by the Health Protection Team (HPT.)

We are aware of problems accessing fluid-resistant face masks, please see message below:

“Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – the NHSE&I guidance recommends that pharmacies have disposable fluid-resistant face masks (“surgical face masks”), disposable gloves and aprons for use in the event that an emergency means that pharmacy staff have to enter a designated isolation space where a person with suspected coronavirus infection is present. The PPE would also be used when decontaminating a designated isolation space, after a person with suspected coronavirus infection has left the premises. Based on the current expert advice, the NHSE&I guidance does not recommend that PPE needs to be used in other circumstances, e.g. when serving patients on the medicines counter.

Pharmacy contractors have reported that PPE, particularly face masks, are currently difficult to source. HM Government is aware of this and they are taking steps to ensure that face masks will be available to order from pharmacy wholesalers, so contractors can obtain supplies for use by staff in the above circumstances.”

Please do not even consider selling PPE that is being made available for use by staff in the above circumstances, you will seriously damage the reputation of community pharmacy!

We are in regular discussions with NHSE locally as this is an emerging picture, our advice is:

Follow guidelines from government/PHE only regarding specific cases, NOT general media, CCGs, membership organisations etc.

Make sure your NHS mailbox is checked regularly

Ensure that your BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN is up to date and fit for purpose, in case of high levels of sickness/unscheduled closures.

If you do have to close on advice of HPT please let NHS England know on or by contacting Essex LPC. It is especially helpful if you can attach/forward the HPT email.

Will keep you posted as and when things change…