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New lateral flow device distribution service announced for pharmacies

A new advanced service – the NHS community pharmacy COVID-19 lateral flow device distribution service – has been added to the NHS Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF).
The service, which pharmacy contractors can choose to provide, aims to improve access to asymptomatic COVID-19 testing by making lateral flow device (LFD) test kits readily available at community pharmacies. The service is part of the NHS Test and Trace offering to the public and people will self-administer the tests away from the pharmacy, for example, at home.
Pharmacies could receive £450+VAT in up-front payments for the service, in addition to the service fee for each transaction undertaken. This total includes:

  • An early sign-up fee of £200+VAT, for those signed up to the service by 23:59 on 18th April 2021.
  • A one-off set-up fee of £250+VAT, which covers set-up costs including creating a standard operating procedure for the service and training staff who will be involved in providing the service, and storage costs for the test kits ordered from wholesalers.
  • A service fee of £1.50+VAT per transaction.

In NHS Test and Trace marketing and communications aimed at the public, the service will be referred to as Pharmacy Collect and it will allow asymptomatic people to collect LFD test kits, free of charge, from community pharmacies, so they can undertake regular testing as part of the Government’s COVID-19 roadmap plan. The most common circumstances that will prompt a person to undertake regular tests are:

  • They are a child at school or are in a bubble with school children
  • They work at a school or are in a bubble with school staff
  • They have to leave the house for work
  • Their local council has advised them to test
  • Their GP or another healthcare professional has advised them to test.

The pharmacy is not involved in the generation of test results, supporting the reporting of results or the next steps for the person taking the test.
This lateral flow test service has been developed at pace, as part of the wider national effort to support COVID recovery, so that pharmacy contractors can start to provide the service as soon as they are ready to do so.
NHS Test and Trace, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement all recognise that this time of year is very busy for pharmacy contractors and their teams, and as such it is unlikely that they will have time to consider offering the service until after Easter. The public promotion of the service will not commence until after Easter.
Commenting on the new service, Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said: “This new service is designed to be easy for contractors to implement and provide, with the day-to-day transactions being managed by the pharmacy’s counter team. PSNC and the Government hope that the majority of pharmacies in England will eventually sign up to provide the service, ensuring easy access to LFD test kits for the population.
“PSNC wanted contractors to have better advance notice of the service, but that has not been possible for Government to achieve. Contractors wishing to provide the service can do so once they have had time to undertake the necessary preparations.
“PSNC believes this service will be another demonstration of how community pharmacy has constantly stepped forward to support patients, the public and the nation during the pandemic.
“Distributing test kits is a great way for the accessibility of community pharmacies and the relationships their teams have with the local community to be used to help the nation’s COVID-19 recovery effort, including supporting less well-served groups of the population.”