GP practices and PCNs should support their local community pharmacies by aligning business continuity plans in the event of a closure, NHS England has said.
In a primary care bulletin (29 September), NHS England said: ‘It is recognised that the temporary closures of an individual pharmacy and/or general practice can impact on the other pharmacies and general practices within a primary care network (PCN).’
‘We’re asking GP practices and PCNs to support their local community pharmacies by aligning business continuity plans in the event of a closure,’ it added.
Community pharmacies and their pharmacy PCN leads have already been incentivised to have business continuity plans in place in the anticipation of temporary closures, via the Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS).
The scheme is part of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework and rewards community pharmacies for meeting quality outcomes on clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient experience.
It has been developed to incentivise quality improvement in areas that support the Covid-19 response, including improving infection control and promoting weight management initiatives.
PCN business continuity discussions
Under part two of the 2020/21 scheme, pharmacies must choose one or more ‘quality domains’ to work towards to qualify for a payment – one of which is on ‘PCN business continuity discussions’.
According to NHS England guidance, the aim of this domain is for pharmacies to ‘work collaboratively with other primary care providers to maintain business continuity across the PCN following the temporary closure of individual pharmacies or general practices to minimise the impact on patient care’.
The document said that pharmacy PCN leads must liaise with their PCN clinical director or lead to ‘gain an understanding of the business continuity plans for the general practices’ within the network, ‘should one or more have to close or be severely compromised in the services it can provide’.
Appropriate details of the high-level business continuity plans for the general practices should also be shared with the pharmacies in the PCN, the document added, so that ‘in the event that a general practice needs to temporarily close, pharmacy contractors can adopt a collaborative approach to support the plans of the general practice, where appropriate and necessary’.