Why is the pharmacy flu service important?
Pharmacy is becoming a firm option for NHS flu jabs. According to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), community pharmacists in England administered 1,431,538 NHS flu vaccinations so far in 2018/19. Other findings for 2018/19 include:
- The number of community pharmacies offering the NHS service was 9,071 (78.2% of all community pharmacies in England).
- On average each participating pharmacy delivered 158 vaccinations, although five pharmacies greatly exceeded this by completing over 1,000 vaccinations each, with one administering over 2,500 vaccinations.
- Compared to the 2017/18 flu season, the total number of flu vaccinations administered this year was higher by 87,076 with 84 more contractors have provided the service.
So when it comes to business and the nation’s health, knowing how to sell your pharmacy flu service is important for everyone.
An Advanced Service for pharmacy
NHS England allows community pharmacies in England to offer seasonal influenza (flu) vaccination service for patients who are aged 65 years or over or are in at-risk groups. This service is an Advanced Service in the English Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (the pharmacy contract).
The service can be provided by any community pharmacy in England that fully meets the requirements. Many pharmacies are already offering this NHS service. Some may also be offering a private flu service alongside it (where patients pay for the vaccination).
Check out the extent of your pharmacy flu service and re-read any related Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Also, familiarise yourself with your pharmacy’s flu Patient Group Directions (PGDs). Make sure you’re clear on what your PGD entails e.g. paperwork and eligibility (some only cover NHS not Private).
The pharmacy service will reach more people to help protect them against flu and help to relieve the pressure on GP surgery time. It gives patients a convenient venue for having the jab, one that’s accessible and does not need an appointment. It also raises the profile of the pharmacy and its staff within your community. Every member of the pharmacy team has a role to play in the pharmacy flu service.
Engaging patients and customers
The success of the NHS flu vaccination programme depends on making sure that everyone who is eligible is offered the flu jab.
The pharmacy can help increase the uptake of the flu jab by raising awareness, identifying those who are eligible and starting conversations with them.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has offered the following tips:
- Raise awareness of free flu vaccination among people who are eligible. Do this at the earliest opportunity before the flu vaccination season starts in September, and ideally by the end of December.
- Consider working with external organisations, including those representing people with relevant medical conditions, to increase awareness of flu vaccination among eligible groups (and their parents or carers, if relevant).
- Include information on flu vaccination with other health-related messages and existing health-promotion for people in eligible groups.
- Use every opportunity throughout the flu vaccination season to identify people in eligible groups and offer them the flu vaccination. This could include when people visit community pharmacies for health advice, a Medicines Use Review (MUR) or a New Medicine Service (NMS), or to collect prescriptions (check whether the person taking the medicine or their carer is eligible while taking into account confidentiality).
- Include prompts about people’s eligibility for flu vaccination in electronic patient records.
A PSNC Services Factsheet – Eligible Groups for the Flu Vaccination Service 2019/20 – will be available. This could be displayed prominently for customers to see. Plus it can be used as a ‘quick reference’ by the team to check if a patient is eligible.
Involving the team
Role of Counter Staff
The counter staff are the first point of contact for customers and patients coming into the pharmacy. As a result, they play a vital role in promoting the pharmacy flu service, identifying potential patients and recruiting them for the service.
However, all staff who have to serve at the counter at some point in the day, including pharmacists or dispensary staff, should also bear in mind the following counter-specific roles.
Roles may include:
- Handing out flyers alerting customers to the service
- Keeping an eye on people buying related OTC products e.g. cough/cold remedies or vitamin and mineral supplements (VMS) to boost their immune system
- Identifying people who are not eligible for the NHS service but would benefit from the private service. These include people wanting to avoid flu, those working with or in contact with vulnerable people (e.g. extended family members) so they can avoid passing the flu virus onto them
- When handing out prescriptions, using this opportunity to invite eligible people to the service
- Using the wider community to spread the word about the pharmacy’s flu service e.g. at clubs and social groups, community events
Role of Dispensary Staff
The focus for dispensary staff is around prescriptions.
Roles may include:
- When dispensing a prescription, check whether the patient is eligible for a free NHS flu jab. If they are, putting a note or sticker on the bag can alert them to the service and invite them to have a jab
- Checking the PMR proactively for all eligible patients and contacting those who are entitled to a free flu jab at the pharmacy
Role of the pharmacist
Consultations give the pharmacist the ideal opportunity to discuss the pharmacy flu service. You can answer questions and even give the jab during the same session.
Roles may include:
- Identifying eligible patients through New Medicines Service (NMS) and Medicines Use Review (MUR) consultation
- Using the opportunity to deliver the flu jab during the consultation
- Being prepared with the ‘flu kit’ so everything is ready to hand to give the jab. This is useful because it prevents delays to both the patient and pharmacist
- Offering the private service to anyone who is not eligible but who is in contact with at-risk vulnerable people. Also, asking eligible patients who take up the offer of the free flu vaccine to mention the benefits of the private service to family members
Why Buy This Course?
Pharmacy owners are responsible for meeting GPhC Principle 2 requirements for support staff training. This course makes it easy for owners to demonstrate that their staff are up to date with the latest knowledge and skills. This course includes:
- Personalised certificate as evidence of completion
- Video tutorials to engage learners
- Case scenarios to reinforce key learning points
- Multiple choice quiz to embed learning
- Structured learning plan
Note: this module focuses on the NHS pharmacy flu service specification for England. Refer to local guidelines for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
By the end of this course you will be able to:
- Communicate the changes that have been introduced to this year’s flu vaccination service
- Understand the importance of the pharmacy flu service – NHS & Private
- Make the most of the business and professional opportunities around the flu service
- Engage with patients and recruit them into the pharmacy’s flu service
- Confidently deliver the flu service in your pharmacy
This course will take you approximately 20 minutes to complete. The videos are additional and optional. They are included to accommodate different learning styles and to help enhance the learning experience.
Why is this pharmacy flu service training course important?
Flu vaccination protects patients against developing flu symptoms, which can be severe and sometimes fatal in elderly and vulnerable patients. Every member of the team has a vital role to play. Both in communicating this to patients and customers and in delivering this Advanced Service in pharmacy.
This post was created on behalf of MediaPharm by Nicola Hasted from Pharmacy Mentor