1st July 2020 Update


ADDITIONAL MEASURES TO SUPPORT ACCESS TO PALLIATIVE CARE MEDICINES DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC 

You will be aware from previous correspondence that in order to increase availability of palliative care medicines during the COVID 19 pandemic the HSCB commissioned enhanced access for the dispensing of prescriptions from (i) community pharmacies and (ii) HSC Trust pharmacies. The purpose of this letter is to update you on the current position. 

(i) Increased access from Palliative Care Community pharmacies 

The HSCB established an out-of-hours on-call rota from the extended network of palliative care community pharmacies to allow urgent prescriptions to be dispensed up to 10pm Monday – Sunday. 

After review, the HSCB has decided that the need for the on call arrangement has reduced to a level whereby the service can be stood down. The service will cease on Sunday 5th July 2020. 

Factors contributing to this decision include: 

 The number of COVID 19 cases reported across NI continues to decline 

 96% of Nursing Homes (currently open and registered with RQIA) now stock an Urgent Pandemic Pack of medicines for the treatment of patients with clinically urgent (COVID and NON-COVID) conditions 

 The network of palliative care pharmacies has been extended providing additional access in some areas outside of normal pharmacy opening hours 

(ii) Supply of urgent palliative care medicines from HSC Trust pharmacies 

Between the hours of 10pm and 8am Trust on-call pharmacy services were available to supply urgent palliative care medicines as needed. For the reasons outlined above this service has also been stood down. 

Whilst the service is being stood down at this time, it is recognised that the service may need to be reinstated again at some time in the future should we be faced with a second surge of COVID 19. 

Actions for OOH medical centres and COVID centres 

 Please bring this to the attention of all relevant staff 

Please ensure that you have robust processes in place to cover the prescribing, collection and delivery of urgent medicines to patients and the secure transfer of prescriptions to pharmacies 

Yours sincerely, 

Joe Brogan 

Assistant Director of Integrated Care 

Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management 

 ADDITIONAL MEASURES TO SUPPORT ACCESS TO PALLIATIVE CARE MEDICINES DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC 

You will be aware from previous correspondence that HSCB has already put in place a number of measures to ensure that palliative care medicines are more readily available during the COVID 19 pandemic, and more information on this is included in Appendix 1. 

To further increase the availability of palliative care medicines, HSCB has commissioned enhanced access for the dispensing of prescriptions from (i) community pharmacies and (ii) HSC Trust pharmacies. This arrangement will be outside of the greater Belfast area where there is already an established Belfast on-call pharmacy arrangement which will continue as before. 

(i) Increased access from Palliative Care Community pharmacies 

A number of community pharmacies already provide palliative care services. HSCB has now commissioned additional community pharmacies to provide this service. The full list of pharmacies, together with their normal opening hours, is available at: http://www.hscbusiness.hscni.net/services/2481.htm 

All of these pharmacies stock the regional palliative care medicines list which is available at: http://www.hscbusiness.hscni.net/services/2481.htm 

HSCB has also established an out-of-hours on-call rota from these pharmacies to allow urgent prescriptions to be dispensed up to 10pm and will share details of the rota arrangements with OOH and COVID centres on a weekly basis. 

The protocol for how OOH and COVID centres should use the service can be accessed at: http://www.hscbusiness.hscni.net/services/3149.htm 

(ii) Supply of urgent palliative care medicines from HSC Trust pharmacies 

After 10pm, Trust on-call pharmacy services in the Western, Northern, Southern and South Eastern areas (outside of Belfast on-call geography) can be contacted to dispense HS21 prescriptions for urgent palliative care medicines only. Full details of the service are available at http://www.hscbusiness.hscni.net/pdf/COVID-19%20Obtaining%20clinically%20urgent%20palliative%20medicines%20via%20Trusts%20150520.pdf 

This arrangement has been put in place to support the supply of medicines during the COVID 19 pandemic and will be kept under review. We will issue further communication in due course to advise when the service will cease. 

Please ensure that all relevant staff are made aware of these new protocols and arrangements. 

 

It should be noted that: 

 The GP OOH/COVID centre is responsible for delivering any urgently required prescriptions to the community pharmacy or Trust premises for dispensing. 

 Prescriptions should NOT be presented by e.g. the patient, carer, household contact or care home staff but instead by a representative of the GP OOH/ COVID centre. 

Thank you for your continued support during these extremely challenging times. If you have any further queries please contact a Pharmacy Adviser in your local HSCB office. 

 

Yours sincerely 

 

Joe Brogan, 

Assistant Director of Integrated Care Assistant Director of Integrated Care 

 

Dr Margaret O’Brien

Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Head of General Medical Services Management