Community pharmacists in England have been given until the end of March to assess their compliance with NHS Connecting for Health’s information governance requirements.

Pharmacists must complete an online baseline assessment against CfH’s Information Governance Toolkit by 31 March, covering 18 requirements for community pharmacy.

Community pharmacists will then be given 12 months, until 31 March 2011, to reach level two on each of the requirements, which range from zero to three.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said that although pharmacists may have processes in place to ensure the secure handling of information these may not be fully documented.

It said many pharmacies would therefore need to record a baseline level of zero for some or all of the requirements.

It added: ”Implementing the requirements by the 2011 deadline is expected to be burdensome as it has been for the GP surgeries and NHS organisations that have recently been through this process.”

The PSNC added that as pharmacists handle sensitive information about NHS patients “there was no possibility that pharmacies could be exempt from the requirements.”

The PSNC, together with the Department of Health, CfH, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and NHS Employers, have developed a workbook and training booklet for pharmacy staff on the NHS information governance requirements.

The PSNC said a range of downloadable templates had also been develop to help pharmacists meet each of the requirements.