Hospital and clinical pharmacists in primary care have worked together to ensure the safe and speedy acceleration biggest vaccination programme in NHS history.
Pharmacists have been overseeing the safe handling of the COVID-19 Pfizer and Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccines to ensure their integrity. This includes working with local leads on clinical advice and training, also ensuring the vaccine is stored, prepared and administered safely.
Paul Fieldhouse is clinical director of pharmacy services for North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC) and said: “The vaccine requires special storage, particular careful handling in preparation for each dose and robust governance systems to be in place. It has been really good that we have all been able to share our experience and learning to support the roll-out in general practice.”
Helena Gregory is pharmacy lead for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). She said: “It was really helpful for pharmacists in primary care to see how it was working in the hospital hub. It helped us plan and deliver a successful programme of primary care vaccination. We have worked together on any challenges that have come up, supported each other and really worked as a team.
“This is really important in primary care where pharmacists are often working remotely, that network of support and advice is really valuable.”
One example of this collaborative approach is the work of NCIC Pharmacists Jeanette Pieri, Emma Simmons working alongside Joanna Armstrong from Eden Primary Care Network (PCN). They have been working together with GP practice staff since the start.
Anna Sives, operations manager for Eden PCN said: The team have been fantastic. We could not have done this without them. They have worked so hard, kept us right on the protocols and overall shown excellent leadership and good humour. I am so proud of them and want to thank them for the opportunity to work together on the wider PCN objectives.”
Primary care networks are groups of GP practices working together in local areas. There are eight Primary Care Networks across north Cumbria with nine vaccination hubs. All practices are inviting their patients to sessions at the hubs.
Clinical pharmacists across the county are also still doing their usual jobs including their vital medicine safety role.
In other parts of the country some community pharmacies are starting to offer the vaccine – but so far none in Cumbria have started.