Coronavirus: Pharmacy funding a ‘sticking plaster’ over problem

Coronavirus: Pharmacy funding a ‘sticking plaster’ over problem

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Jacob Webster at 5:59pm 7th April 2020.

A leading Pharmacist says the Government needs to do more to support pharmacies.

  • He's branded a multi-million pound emergency funding package a "sticking plaster".
  • It comes after stockpiling of items such as hand sanitiser led to taff being verbally abused last month.
  • The Government says it recognises "there are more things to do."

A multi-million pound package of emergency funds for pharmacies is only a sticking plaster over the problems which frontline workers are facing, an industry leader has said.

Pharmacies in North Yorkshire struggling to cope with staff shortages and panic buying customers were last week told financial help is on the way when the government announced a £300million support plan.

But the cash is being sent out in advance payments – meaning it will eventually have to be paid back – and the sector is now stressing it will desperately need new funds to meet the additional costs incurred during the coronavirus crisis.

Ian Dean, chief executive at Community Pharmacy North Yorkshire, said the cash boost is a step in right direction, but added more needs to be done to support pharmacies which he said are the “front door” of the NHS.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said:

“We welcome the fact the government is recognising the hard work that these frontline staff are doing. But this is not new money – and it is just a sticking plaster over the problem.

“Pharmacies have seen such a massive increase in demand due to people stockpiling medicine ‘just in case’ they need it.

“Some pharmacies have seen their orders double – and even treble – from their normal amount.”

Mr Dean said pharmacies will use the money to address their immediate cash flow concerns brought about by huge stock orders – and each branch can expect to see around £18,000 this month and £9,000 in May.

The government said the advanced funding will support pharmacies to provide “critical services to protect community health.”

Community Pharmacy North Yorkshire previously said the widespread stockpiling of paracetamol, hand sanitisers and thermometers has led to increasing reports of disorder at chemists in the region – with some key staff members facing violent abuse.

The group is pleading with customers to treat staff with respect and stop buying more medicine than they need.

Coronavirus

A total of £200 million was paid to pharmacy contractors April 1 – and a further £100 million will be allocated on May 1.

The Department of Health and Social Care also said it has reduced the number of services that community pharmacy are required to deliver to allow them to prioritise the most important tasks – but they will continue to receive their full NHS funding.

During this period, pharmacies will not be required to pilot new services or carry out non-critical administrative tasks.

Minister for Health Jo Churchill said:

"Every day, community pharmacies carry out critical work to protect the health of the public and support the wider NHS.

“This is even more important now as we face this unprecedented time.

“We hugely value the role of the community pharmacy, which is why we are backing them with £300 million of advanced funding to support them as we continue to assess the full additional impact of coronavirus on community pharmacy.”

In a letter of praise sent this week to pharmacies, Mrs Churchill recognised “there are more things to do” for frontline workers – and added “I am doing everything I can at pace to make these improvements.”

She said:

“We are living through unprecedented times and I recognise that pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and their teams across the country are providing an outstanding response to patients in challenging circumstances.

“You are delivering a vital service for patients in the most challenging
circumstances, and I will continue to support your efforts however I can.

“In the meantime, I reiterate my sincerest thanks for all that you are doing to support your communities and the most vulnerable in society.”