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Government must stop the shallow platitudes and back pharmacy

Perhaps MPs will be of use to community pharmacy after all when it comes to securing some desperately needed Covid-19 funding.

Not those within the government of course. They have been reluctant to throw their full support behind pharmacy teams as they continue to expose themselves to a life-threatening disease to ensure their communities get their medicines and have access to advice. Unless you think £370 million in advanced funding to cope with the crisis is full support.

I don't think it is. And I don't think many within pharmacy do.

This government has been pretty good at rolling out shallow platitudes. Pharmacy teams on the front-line of the NHS have faced unbearable pressures and still met patients' needs but have had to put up with MPs' soft soaping instead of decisive support. 

First, pharmacy minister Jo Churchill thought it was convenient to pat them on the back and say well done. That was provocative.

Then we had the health secretary Matt Hancock paying "special tribute" to pharmacists for their roles in the initial roll-out of the Covid vaccine. Never mind the tributes Mr Hancock. How about persuading your boss and the Treasury to write off those £370 million in loans and increase community pharmacy's contractual global sum? 

We've heard how badly pharmacies have struggled without government action. A report by the patient advocate group Healthwatch found the vast majority of pharmacies in Kent suffered with staffing problems during the first wave of the pandemic and many did not have access to support and personal protective equipment.

The PSNC is pushing the government hard for funding to cover pharmacies' costs and write off that £370 million but talks, by the negotiator's own admission, are and will continue to be “very challenging.”

So step forward the All Party Pharmacy Group that launched an inquiry into the financial and operational impacts of Covid-19 on community pharmacy services.

The inquiry is examining how pharmacies have responded to the crisis, the pressures they have faced and whether existing funding is enough to support the sector. It must surely conclude it is not.

The APPG said it will publish a report that will include proposals on what is needed to prevent pharmacies from going under, leaving local populations at the mercy of this deadly virus as they wait to get vaccinated.

“Our inquiry seeks to rapidly examine these challenges and provide a set of recommendations which can be offered to the government,” APPG chair Jackie Doyle-Price said.

Let us hope the APPG cranks up the pressure on the government to turn their shallow words into something more substantial.




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