To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to issue guidance to health professionals on the Serious Shortage Protocol.
A Serious Shortage Protocol is an additional tool to manage serious medication shortages and may be used in the exceptional and rare situation when other measures have been exhausted or are likely to be ineffective.
At present we are currently working on the governance process for developing Serious Shortage Protocols, should one be required, through engagement, including with professional bodies and patient groups. Following this we will issue guidance to health professionals in due course.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, the organisation who represent National Health Service community pharmacy contractors in England, have developed a briefing note to support community pharmacies, who will need to consider training and changes to their standard operating-procedures to take account of the potential new processes.
Any Serious Shortage Protocol would be developed by senior, specialist doctors and pharmacists, with input from national experts, Royal Colleges and specialist societies. If a Serious Shortage Protocol is to be authorised then there will also be engagement with the relevant patient groups, who can assist in informing patients. Pharmacists still have to use their professional judgment as to whether supplying against the protocol rather than the prescription is appropriate and provide the patient with relevant information. If they determine supply is not appropriate, then the patient should be referred back to their prescriber.