Pharmacy teams in England will now be able to access free supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Government’s portal, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.

This comes almost five months after the portal was first created and two months after other health and social care workers, including general practices and residential and domiciliary social care services, were first given access to the supplies.

On Monday (3 August) community pharmacies were added to the system, and can now access the supplies of PPE.

Contractors will receive an email invitation to their shared NHSmail inbox to register, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said. The emails will be sent in a phased approach to manage the registration of pharmacies by the portal’s logistics team.

The change means pharmacies will now be able to order up to 50 IIR masks, 100 aprons and 100 pairs of gloves per week.

Contractors have also been advised to continue using their wholesaler routes to access supplies of equipment and only use the portal for additional PPE if needed.

Ensuring adequate provision

Back in May, when the portal was first opened to some healthcare providers, the DHSC said it was ‘focusing on small care providers because data showed that, although they account for half of all care provision, they seem to be less likely to be registered with wholesalers’.

Last month, a survey conducted by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) revealed that some pharmacists have been discouraged from wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee has given the DHSC two months [from July] to report back with a plan to ensure PPE provision during a second spike of Covid-19.