Community pharmacy will miss out on the government's latest personal protective equipment (PPE) supply arrangement after it was decided that the sector will not be given access to the next rollout phase of the new PPE Portal.

New deals with manufacturers from around the world means that the UK is soon to expect a further 3.7 billion gloves too help meet continued demand in the health and social care sectors.

Pharmacy teams will not have access to the new supply - unlike general practices, small residential and domiciliary social care services, who will be able to order PPE through the government's new PPE Portal.

The PPE Portal has been piloted since early April ‘with an initial group of primary care providers’ able to submit requests for PPE.

The Department of Health has now rolled the portal out nationally and has given GPs and care homes access.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) explained that it was ‘focusing on small care providers because [its] data show that, although they account for half of all care provision, they seem to be less likely to be registered with wholesalers’.

There have been reports that pharmacy teams are still struggling to obtain continuous supplies of PPE to protect themselves from the public and colleagues. A survey conducted by the RPS last month revealed that 34% of pharmacy teams cannot access PPE easily.

RPS England Chair Claire Anderson believes the pharmacy teams should have access to the Portal. ‘It’s disappointing to see pharmacy being left behind in this phase of the roll-out,’ she said.

‘Pharmacies are one of the last places keeping their doors open to the public without an appointment and yet seemingly an afterthought when it comes to sourcing PPE for staff.

‘We’ve raised this repeatedly with the Government and have called for pharmacy to urgently be included in the PPE Portal.

‘People working on the frontline of Covid-19 should get the same support wherever they may be, including across the whole of primary care.’

Last month, Public Health England advised pharmacy teams to reuse facemasks, due to stocks being in ‘short supply’.