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Cash injection received badly by pharmacy contractors


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By Isabel Shaw
Reporter

03 Apr 2020

Many pharmacy contractors have taken to social media to voice frustration and disappointment over the government’s £300m advance payment to support pharmacy businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The first instalment of £200 million was paid to pharmacy contractors on 1 April, with the remaining £100 million being allocated on 1 May 2020.

Dorset contractor, Mike Hewitson, posted an impassioned video on Twitter to express his belief that the funding was ‘the absolute minimum the government could have done.’

‘I’m really angry and disappointed, this is a slap in the face for contractors, I don’t understand what’s going through NHS England’s mind right now,’ he said.

Consequences

Community pharmacist and owner of Newdays Pharmacy, Berkshire, Olivier Picard, expressed his ‘fear’ over the consequences this injection may have.

‘Obviously, the cash injection is very necessary,’ he said, ‘but I’m honestly very scared over whether I’ll ever be able to pay it back.

‘For small community pharmacies who are already struggling, this crisis will surely bring them to collapse.’

‘Even my pharmacy is not immune to no margin and huge bills, clearly the government doesn’t feel like we need any sort of propping up or help with this,’ he told The Pharmacist.

Underfunded

Mr Picard said he believed that the money should have been given to pharmacies as a payment to ‘ease pressures in recognition of all the hard work [pharmacy] is having to do, instead of it just being a loan to help with generic buying.’

He said he was also concerned that the government would not support community pharmacy when the pandemic is over.

‘They don’t care about us. Community pharmacy has been underfunded for many years; why would that change now?’

The government has also provided each pharmacy with £300 for pharmacies to equip themselves against the pandemic.

‘That money alone has not covered what I’ve had to pay: £300 won’t cover a screen and excess PPE,’ Mr Picard said.

Critical work

Minister for Health, Jo Churchill, commented: ‘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.’

Pharmacy bodies have welcomed the funding as a ‘step in the right direction but have said that it will not be enough to keep pharmacies afloat during the pandemic.

Contractors are no longer required to pilot new services or carry out non-critical administrative tasks, such as updating practice leaflets.


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