Christmas and New Year Opening Hours 2019

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Christmas and New Year Opening Hours 2019

September 17, 2019

NHS England & NHS Improvement have today emailed all community pharmacy contractors with the following message:

Notification of Early Closure

Directory of Services (DOS) are receiving an increasing number of change requests, through the Profile Updater, for amendments to opening hours over the Christmas and New Year bank holiday period.  All requests for amendments to opening hours should be made in line with terms of service as set out in Schedules to the Regulations (regulation 65(5) to (7) and paragraphs 25 and 26 apply).  Standard application forms have been developed for this purpose and should be used in all circumstances.

It is imperative that the information on the DOS is as accurate and up to date as possible, in order that patients do not have an adverse experience if signposted to a service by 111, or via another DOS interaction, which is then found to be closed.

The following information may assist in relation to notification of changes to Supplementary Hours:

Name of Holiday Date in 2019 Day of the week Final Date for notification to NHSE
Christmas Eve 24 December Tuesday 24 September 2019
New Year’s Eve 31 December Tuesday 1 October 2019

 Frequently Asked Questions (Extract from PSNC website)

  1. Can I close my pharmacy on these days?

Yes. Community pharmacy contractors can close their pharmacies on days which are specifically mentioned in the Regulations (namely Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday) or a day which has been designated as a “bank holiday” unless directed to open by NHS England. 

  1. What about my core contractual hours?

A pharmacy will be treated as having been open for its usual hours on that day for the purpose of counting the core contractual hours that week.  Therefore, the contractor can close their pharmacy on the days indicated without giving notice or making an application to change their core hours.

  1. Are there exceptional circumstances when I must open on these days?

Yes. If a contractor has been directed to open their pharmacy by NHS England.

  1. Can I close my pharmacy early any other time?

Sometimes contractors may wish to close an hour or so earlier than usual on a particular day for any reason. If the hours that the contractor wishes to close early are supplementary hours, then notice of that intention should be given at least three months in advance. If the hours are core hours, then an application is needed, and the contractor would have to be able to satisfy NHS England that there have been changes to the needs of people in the area, otherwise the application would likely to be refused.  Unless you have notified NHS England of changes to your supplementary hours at least three months before the date or applied successfully for amendment of core hours, the contractor will not be able to close early.

  1. Do I need to notify NHS England of opening intentions on bank holidays?

Contractors are encouraged to inform NHS England whether their premises will be open on bank holidays. This information is of critical importance to NHS England in order that it is able to plan pharmacy provision during holiday periods.  If NHS England is not able to determine the opening hours of pharmacies with a high degree of certainty, its only option may be to issue directions to one or more pharmacies requiring them to open.  This clearly is not in the best interests of pharmacies if there are other suitable pharmacies that would have been open; so PSNC recommends that all contractors notify their intentions and then open as they have notified.  Template forms can be found at https://psnc.org.uk/contract-it/pharmacy-regulation/opening-hours/

All request to amend core or supplementary opening hours should be made on the correct forms and pharmacies should be aware that NHS England is required by Terms of Service to consider and determine applications to amend Core Hours within 60 days, and changes, where approved, can be implemented not earlier than 30 days after the approval has been received.  Because requests to amend core contractual hours are ‘applications’ NHS England could refuse, so an unsuccessful application may result in an appeal.




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