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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

Emergency planning

FireService Continuity Planning for Pharmacy

Guidance to help community pharmacies continue operating in emergency circumstances has been developed by the RPSGB, PSNC and Community Pharmacy Wales.

Service Continuity Planning Guidance

LPC briefing on Emergency Planning


Flu pandemicPandemic Flu

Useful Resources: 

Community Pharmacy Pandemic Flu template

Government Contingency Plans for a Flu Pandemic

Surge Capacity & Prioritisation in Health Services

Useful Websites:

Department of Health

World Health Organisation

Health Protection Agency 


Frequently Asked Questions

Can contractors continue to provide MURs during the pandemic?

The DH has not issued instructions about MURs during the pandemic and PCTs continue to be directed to make sure that they are provided. Unlike certain aspects of the GP contract, there is currently no regulatory mechanism by which PCTs can suspend the provision of MURs during a flu pandemic. However when planning for emergencies, including pandemic flu, pharmacy contractors will want to consider at what point they themselves decide to suspend the provision of MURs (or not) as pharmacy workload increases and/or resources decrease.

I have heard that vouchers are the only method of authorisation for antivirals for U13s. What about Unique Reference Numbers (URNs)?

It was recently announced that all authorisation for the supply of antivirals for children under 13 years of age by GPs must be by voucher, and for those over 13 by voucher or by using the RHS of the prescription. This decision follows an assessment of the risks and benefits of GPs using FP10s or vouchers to authorise the supply of antivirals to give a consistent approach to authorisation across the country. Vouchers are therefore the only route of authorisation by GPs but if the authorisation is sought for a child over 1 (all children under one year of age must be referred to a GP) via the National Pandemic Flu Service or NHS Direct then an URN will be issued and this is also a valid authorisation.

I have notice that prescription length has started to increase in anticipation of the pandemic.  This will affect the stock supply chain. What advice has been given to prescribers?

The DH has agreed with the Royal College of General Practitioners that prescribers should not increase their normal prescribing habits. RCGP has posted the following on their website as part of their Update 35 (24 July), which states:

LENGTH OF PRESCRIPTIONS

There appears to be some evidence from community pharmacies that GPs may be starting to prescribe medicines for longer periods than they would normally do.  The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Department of Health has provided the following advice:

"The medicines supply chain operates a service which is tailored to the normal use of products in the UK. Prescribers should maintain normal prescribing patterns in order to maintain supplies of medicines for all patients. Prescribing larger than normal quantities may lead to shortages of medicines."

PSNC has advised that this statement should be flagged up to LMCs for local action/dissemination.

Should I begin to stockpile medicines and other flu related stock that will be in increased demand?

No. DH has re-confirmed their view is that pharmacies should not be stockpiling medicines which was the message originally issued by Keith Ridge in a letter dated 11 May 2009 which stated:

"Securing the medicines supply chain it is important, that pharmacists whether in a community or hospital setting adhere to normal ordering patterns and avoid stock piling any medicines. Steps are being taken nationally to secure antibiotics that may be required for secondary infections in the short term and strengthen the supply chain in general for the longer term. All pharmacists should continue to show due care for the on-going treatment of their patients by continuing to acting responsibly and professionally in maintaining stocks of medicines for their patients. Failure to do so, for example by entering into arrangements or agreements which reduce the volume of medicines in the UK medicines supply chain, could compromise the ability of the NHS to respond appropriately to this situation, as well as potentially adversely affecting individual patient care and health".