PSNC calls for more COVID-19 support for pharmacies

PSNC calls for more COVID-19 support for pharmacies

March 16, 2020

PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the community pharmacy sector.

Featuring in a segment about issues facing the supply chain, Mr Dukes called for urgent investment in community pharmacies to support them through this unprecedented situation.

Mr Dukes warned of the precarious position that the sector is in, stating that previous underfunding means there is little in reserve for this and so the pharmacies that patients and the NHS rely on may go under. He highlighted that the resource impact on community pharmacy teams is huge and the sector urgently needs to see Government funding to support that.

Listen to Simon Dukes on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

Discussions with HM Government

For several weeks now PSNC has been in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) to address the potential impact on community pharmacy.

The discussions are complex and will be ongoing as the situation evolves, but there are a few elements that we wanted to highlight to contractors and their teams.

Contractual requirements: We are pressing for the NHS to take a pragmatic and flexible approach to the regulations and terms of service (such as those requirements due by 31st March 2020), to enable community pharmacies and pharmacists to concentrate on patient care.

Medicine supply issues: Our Dispensing and Supply Team has been monitoring the generic medicines affected by recent price hikes and has made clear the need for protection for pharmacies against these sudden price rises. Pharmacy teams should continue to report supply issues to PSNC via the usual reporting forms.

COVID-19 Forum: We have launched the Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Forum to provide an opportunity for information sharing with other pharmacy and supply chain bodies, DHSC and NHSE&I. It held its first (virtual) meeting last week with more than 20 different organisations present.

Emergency supply service: With logistical support from PSNC, community pharmacies in Devon have begun making emergency supplies of medicines to patients registered with GP practices that had to close temporarily due to COVID-19. Whilst there is still further work to do on this (particularly in regards to funding), the intention is that this service will be used by NHSE&I elsewhere in England as needed.

Statement from PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes

“The sector’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been impressive, but many community pharmacies were on their knees financially before this outbreak and are now teetering on the brink of collapse. I am genuinely concerned that we will see COVID-19-related pharmacy closures and those businesses will not have the funds to open again: thus reducing the network of pharmacies on the high street just at the time when they are needed most.

Community pharmacies are on the front line and are experiencing notable increases in the number of walk-ins and phone calls, numerous enquiries for delivery services, substantial price rises for common medicines, and increasing levels of staff sickness. The sector needs urgent investment now just to keep the doors open and ensure that the vital services of dispensing and guidance/reassurance to patients and the treatment of minor ailments continues.”

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