Unplanned Pharmacy Closures
Notifying the NHS of suspension or likely temporary suspension of services
If you are unable to provide pharmaceutical services, for any reason, you must ensure that your Unplanned Closure procedure is followed, and that the regional NHSE team is notified of any time the pharmacy is closed. This may include situations such as fire, flood, electrical failure, building safety issues or sickness of the responsible pharmacist or pharmacy team.
A notification of a temporary suspension or likely temporary suspension in the provision of pharmaceutical services at a pharmacy premises must, as a minimum, include the following:
For a temporary or likely temporary suspension
- The name of the contractor.
- The ODS code (also known as the F code) of the contractor.
- The address and contact phone number of the pharmacy premises.
- The date(s) and time(s), so far as practicable, of:
- the likely temporary suspension(s) of pharmaceutical services
- the temporary suspension(s) of pharmaceutical services and the anticipated duration(s), ideally before the start of the suspension(s).
- The reason(s) for the temporary suspension(s) or likely temporary suspension(s).
- The key actions taken to limit the impact on those anticipating or accustomed to using the pharmacy premises, so far as practicable (and for likely temporary suspensions the key actions that are appropriate or proportionate to the likelihood of the suspension).
- The actions taken to ensure that the provision of pharmaceutical services can resume promptly.
- The name of the person completing the notification.
- The contact telephone number and email address for the contractor.
- The date of the notification.
Wherever possible, the notification must be made:
- by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please also copy in the LPC at email@example.com
Remember Annex 14 should be used to inform the regional pharmacy team of closures, it can be downloaded here: pharmacy-manual-annex-14-unplanned-temporary-suspension-of-services (1)
Regulations and Business Continuity Plan Requirements
Following changes to the NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 that were imposed in early 2023, from 31st July 2023, it became a Terms of Service requirement for each NHS community pharmacy owner to have a business continuity plan for a temporary suspension of service (closure) due to illness or other reason beyond their control, and to action this when necessary.
The Terms of Service requirements are broadly that your plan must include arrangements for:
- Notifying your Integrated Care Board (ICB) of a temporary suspension, and a likely temporary suspension (in accordance with the approved particulars from NHS England);
- Updating the NHS England Directory of Services (DoS);
- Reducing referrals under Directed services that relate to urgent care;
- Notifying your main local GPs and other local contractors of the temporary closure and its anticipated duration;
- Displaying relevant information for patients on the premises (in accordance with the approved particulars), or for DSPs displaying relevant information on their website; and
- Continuity of care, for example, of patients with booked appointments and those who have supervised administration of medicines.
Community Pharmacy England have put together a briefing and a template plan to help guide pharmacy owners through the process. This explains what is required in the plan, describes how and when to implement it, and outlines some additional considerations. This could be added as an annex to your pharmacy’s existing business continuity plan. A checklist has also been added, which may be used in the event of a temporary suspension.
The approved particulars (also shown in the section above) are available on the NHS England website:
- Approved Particulars for Displaying Notices Regarding a Temporary Suspension
- Approved Particulars for Notification of a Temporary Suspension or a Likely Temporary Suspension
NHS England is also still to publish guidance on the amendments to the Pharmaceutical Regulations that came into force on 25th May, which will include guidance on these requirements.
The late publication of NHS England’s advice and approved particulars means that pharmacy owners (contractors) will have difficulty implementing them before the 31st July start date. So, CPE have asked and expect NHS England and ICBs to take a pragmatic approach to any enforcement of these new requirements for at least the next 3 months. This is normal for any enforcement authority (or quasi enforcement authority) even where such guidance is published well in advance.