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NPA Essential: November 2023

NPA Essential

NPA Essential: November 2023

All the news from November from the National Pharmacy Association...

Prepare to provide your best winter service to patients

Helpful resources are now available to help community pharmacists provide the best possible service to patients in the forthcoming winter season.

The NPA recently launched a winter health hub to support pharmacists and pharmacy staff in the delivery of clinical services relating to winter health. The hub includes a range of training materials and resources enabling teams to deliver the most efficient flu vaccination service, as well as providing the most reliable advice to customers and patients about winter health conditions.

Materials available in the hub include:

• Immunology, flu and vaccine hesitancy training modules

• Guidance on setting up a flu vaccination service

• Support resources – common myths about vaccinations and the benefit of vaccinating patients over 50 years old

• PGD and e-tool purchase information, including NPA member discount

• NHS flu vaccination service information and support material e.g. SOPs and guidance

• Marketing materials and assets.

For more information, visit the hub’s website at

Exclusion from pandemic support was ‘shocking’

The NPA has highlighted the ‘shocking’ and ‘disappointing’ exclusion of community pharmacists from benefit given to frontline healthcare staff during its latest evidence to the Covid-19 public inquiry. Speaking at a recent hearing of the inquiry, which is examining all aspects of the Government ’s handling of the pandemic, the NPA also again outlined the hugely significan ways in which community pharmacists helped protect vulnerable patients during the pandemic.

Representing the NPA at the hearing in September, Brian Stanton of Innovo Law outlined how community pharmacists had been initially excluded by the Government from a life assurance scheme for healthcare workers who died during the course of their ‘essential and lifesaving work’.

This decision was only reversed after strong joint petitions by the NPA, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and others. “Despite being part of NHS primary care, risking their lives every day on the frontline to treat patients alongside colleagues from across the NHS and social care sector, and dealing with a huge surge in demand and increase in working hours,  community pharmacy staff were initially excluded from this scheme, and they were told that they would only be considered in exceptional circumstances,” Mr Stanton said.

“Community pharmacy was treated by the Government apart from other front line healthcare workers, often by omission or afterthought. The deliberate omission of pharmacists from the life assurance scheme for healthcare workers is one of the worst examples of this tendency and is something that shocked and disappointed the whole profession.”

Mr Stanton told the hearing that there were other examples of the sector’s exclusion by the Government during the pandemic. These included pharmacists not being recognised as key workers, not being given access to the NHS PPE portal in England until September 2020 – six months into the pandemic – and the lack of availability for testing for community pharmacy staff until November 2020 because community pharmacy was inaccurately categorised as a ‘retail setting’ rather than a healthcare establishment.

\The inquiry is examining all aspects of the pandemic response across the UK. The NPA has been approved as a ‘core participant‘ in Module 4 (vaccines) of the inquiry, which is considering various issues around the development of vaccines and vaccine rollout, as well as Module 3 (healthcare).

Chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, the independent public inquiry is examining the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and lessons for the future.


ACTNow shares resources for wellbeing course

Pharmacy Support’s ACTNow campaign is distributing resources ahead of its wellbeing course for pharmacy managers and leaders. The event is the latest part of the campaign, which aims to promote good health and wellbeing among pharmacists. For more information, visit

Support for undergraduates seeking clinical placements

Assistance is still available for pharmacists wanting more information on establishing clinical placements for undergraduate pharmacists. Clinical placements offer undergraduate pharmacists valuable experience and can lead them to them becoming pre-registration pharmacists. For more information, email NPA Policy Manager Helga Mangion at

Competency framework helps prescribers assess their skills

The recently released antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship (APS) competency framework helps prescribers undertake an honest assessment of their current levels of knowledge and skills and their ability to practice. For full information, visit and search for ‘Antimicrobial Prescribing and Stewardship Competency Framework’.

NPA offers help to meet new valproate rules

The NPA has published a series of documents to support independent community pharmacists and their teams to adhere to new regulations for dispensing valproate-containing medicines.

From October 11, Amendments to the Human Medicine Regulations 2012 – as amended by The Human Medicines (Amendment Relating to Original Pack Dispensing) (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2023 – mean pharmacists are now required to supply sodium valproate, valproic acid and valproate semisodium (valproate containing medicines) in the manufacturer’s original packaging.

In-utero exposure to valproate is associated with developmental disorders and congenital malformations, including spina bifida, malformations of the face, kidney and heart, late development in speech, lower intelligence and memory problems.

The changes aim to ensure that all patients (males and females) are provided with the specific warnings and pictograms on the package label and the detachable patient card, patient booklet and the required patient information leaflet.

The new amendment applies – with two exceptions – to NHS and private supplies under all legal mechanisms. The legislative changes do not apply to Northern Ireland; pharmacists, however, can consider the guidance to dispensing valproate containing medicines in original packaging as good practice.

For full information on the changes and to access the support documents, visit information-and-guidance and follow the ‘Knowledge Article: Supplying Valproate-Containing Medicines UK’ link.


The annual fundraising and awareness campaign encouraging individuals to grow beards during the month to support bowel cancer research. See

Highlighting opportunities at political conferences

Once again, the NPA was present at the main Autumn political conferences, to fly the flag for community pharmacy and help ensure that pharmacy is on the political agenda in the run-up to the next General Election.

During the Conservative Party Conference, NPA Public Affairs Manager Neil Bhayani met with Health Secretary Steve Barclay to highlight opportunities in primary care, public health and long-term conditions. “It was great to remind senior politicians of the forward-looking agenda the sector wishes to pursue,” Neil said.

“It was terrific to fly the flag for community pharmacies and ensure parliamentarians are fully aware of the testing challenges our members are currently facing day in, day out.

“The NPA works tirelessly to push community pharmacy up the political agenda and to seek the recognition and support it deserves.”

Representing independent community pharmacy at the political conferences is just the latest of the NPA’s ongoing and comprehensive advocacy on behalf of its members. In September, the NPA arranged a pharmacy visit for the Opposition’s Pharmacy Minister, Preet Kaul Gill MP – the first such visit for her since her recent appointment to that role.

NPA at primary care show

The NPA once again had a presence at the Primary Care Best Practice Show, which unites the UK’s general practice and primary care communities. This was the second year the NPA has worked with the show’s organisers, with the aim of showcasing community pharmacy to those who operate and lead wider primary care and emphasising the sector’s expanding clinical healthcare role.

NPA Board member Sukhi Basra presented on the event’s Pharmacy Stage, on the topic Building Connectivity.

NPA continues support for Pharmacy Quality Scheme requirements

The NPA is continuing to support members in meeting the Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) 2023-24 requirements. A comprehensive package of additional online resources includes action plan templates, data collection forms and checklists. The NPA PQS pack also includes a Staff Training Tracker to help pharmacy team members progress through the various training elements of the necessary criteria.

For full information on the PQS and the support resources available, visit

Pharmacies to offer free lateral flow device kits

Eligible patients who have risk factors for progression to severe Covid-19 can obtain lateral flow device kits from participating community pharmacies via a new service.

The service, which was announced at the recent Pharmacy Show, allows eligible patients to self-test if they have symptoms which suggest they may have Covid-19, with the potential for them to access treatment if the result is positive.

A service fee of £4 + VAT will be paid for each completed transaction of the supply of one box of five Covid-19 LFD test kits and the cost of tests supplied will be paid according to arrangements set out in the November 2023 Drug Tariff.

The service specificatio is currently going through NHS England’s internal publication process and will be published shortly, but in the meantime, a draft version has been published on the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) website. When ready to provide the service, pharmacy owners will be able to sign up on the NHSBSA’s MYS portal from 6 November 2023, after which they will be able to provide the service.

For more information, visit

NPA shares template for Covid-19 jabs

The NPA has released a Covid-19 vaccine administration SOP template for 2023-24 to ensure safe administration under the community pharmacy enhanced service Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Part of a huge range of resources helping community pharmacists through the ongoing vaccine programme, the SOP covers the provision of the Covid-19 vaccine to ensure that everyone administering vaccinations continues to adhere to all professional standards and is fully qualified to do so.

It covers areas including maintaining cold chain storage measures, appropriate disposal of clinical waste and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Full details can be found on the NPA’s Covid-19 vaccination page, which includes resources for members in all parts of the UK. Visit

Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2023

Resources compiled for this year’s Ask Your Pharmacist Week are still available for independent community pharmacists and their teams.

This year’s instalment of the NPA’s flagshi annual public awareness event, which took place this year from October 30-November 6, had the theme ‘Meet Your Local Pharmacist Team’. Among the resources is an animation for social media and templates for local newspaper columns and community talks.

For more information, go to or email NPA Head of Communications Stephen Fishwick at

Flexible e-learning for pharmacists

NPA Learn contains e-learning modules, videos and articles to support the ongoing learning of NPA members. Training resources suitable for all abilities are available to help ensure pharmacists and their teams can keep up to date and develop their skills and knowledge to positively influenc patient outcomes and customer experiences.

NPA Learn includes:

• Access to over 50 in-depth topics that cover the breadth of pharmacy practice

• An extensive range of courses, from in-depth modules that dive into the intricacies of the industry to quick, insightful articles for those on the go

• Monthly recommendations curated just for you, ensuring you stay at the forefront of the latest developments

• A personalised learning record, making it effortless to track your continuing professional development (CPD) journey.

For more information, see

NPA medication safety update (MSO report) Quarter 2 2023 (England)

The NPA Q2 2023 medication safety update has been released. The summary of key findings from analysis of patient safety incidents reported during Q2 2023 are as follows:

• Overall, there was a 24 per cent decrease in the number of incidents reported during Q2 2023, compared to Q1 2023

• 92 per cent of incidents reported originated from the pharmacy

• 1 per cent of errors reported were both pharmacy and prescribing errors

• The most common type of incident reported during Q3 was ‘dispensing error’, which accounted for 77 per cent of all reported incidents • Delivery/collection errors accounted for 19 per cent of incidents reported – an 8 per cent increase on Q1 2023

• The main categories of errors reported were those involving medication errors such as wrong drug/medicine, strength or formulation. These accounted for 57 per cent of errors reported – this is a 1 per cent decrease from Q1 2023

• The degree of harm caused to patients reported as ‘none’ (66 per cent) and ‘near miss’ (19 per cent) continues to make up the majority of the reports

• 3 per cent of incidents involved self checking.

Independent community pharmacies in England who are NPA members can contact the NPA MSO through the NPA Pharmacy Services Team for further information, advice and/or support on any patient safety or pharmacy matter by emailing

Independent community pharmacies in England with fewer than 50 branches who are currently not members of the NPA can contact the MSO by email at

• Include your pharmacy name, ODS code, name of the owner/superintendent pharmacist and telephone/mobile number, and the pharmacy’s NHSmail email address

• State ‘Non-member MSO query’ in the subject field.

The full range of NPA patient safety resources can be accessed on the NPA website via

Contact the NPA Pharmacy Services team via email on or call 01727 891800.

Community pharmacy workforce survey has been launched

The 2023 Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey has recently been launched. The survey will provide a full picture of the community pharmacy workforce, including identifying the number of vacancies and regions where these are particularly hard to fill.

It will also help to assess current workforce challenges adversely affecting the community pharmacy sector and provide data to inform potential solutions. All pharmacy owners will need to submit data to support workforce planning for the sector.

The survey is open for a period of eight weeks. Conducted by the North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) on behalf of NHS England, the 2023 survey maintains a consistent approach to the 2022 and previous surveys, focusing on the number of staff, the number of full-time equivalents (FTE) and any vacancies in each of 10 staf categories employed in community pharmacy.

As with previous surveys, the data will be collected through two different methods: an online survey, or via data collection at head office level through an Excel spreadsheet. Pharmacies will be emailed by the NHSBSA, asking them to complete the online survey and we will also alert pharmacy owners via our email newsletter and website.

For those pharmacies that do not receive an email from the NHSBSA, it is likely their head office will submit data on their behalf, but if there is any doubt, they should check with their head office. If you require further information about the survey, please see:

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