In an open letter, Pharmacy minister Jo Churchill has thanked the community pharmacy sector for their ‘commitment to patients, the public and the NHS’ during the Covid-19 outbreak.
She acknowledged the frontline position of pharmacy teams in the fight against the pandemic and referred to ‘discussions’ on additional funding for the sector.
‘Ongoing discussions’ surrounding potential funding for community pharmacy are ‘to help with Covid pressures and the new services we are asking of community pharmacy during this time,’ the letter said.
Ms Churchill said that she was ‘committed to getting [pharmacy staff] what [they] need, to do the best for the people [they] serve,’ adding that the government does ‘recognise there are multiple challenges.’
She highlighted that she fully understood the concerns felt by pharmacy staff during the pandemic.
‘I am also aware of the long hours that pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and all pharmacy staff are working’, the pharmacy minister said, adding: ’there is now flexibility in place to allow community pharmacies to regulate their hours to allow individual decision making on the best way to run their business.’
Ms Churchill continued by listing measures the government had already taken to improve the situation in community pharmacy, some of which were the ceased requirement for clinical audits, the delayed introduction of new services and the inclusion of pharmacy staff in the list of key workers.
The pharmacy minister said that the government recognised pharmacy teams as ‘frontline’ staff, and that ‘pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and their teams across the country are providing an outstanding response’, during this period and for that health ministers are ‘incredibly grateful.’
The pharmacy minister ended the letter by acknowledging the important work conducted by pharmacy teams. ‘You are delivering a vital service for patients in the most challenging circumstances, and I will continue to support your efforts however I can,’ she said.
The letter did not refer to the cash injection of £3 million promised to community pharmacy, which was badly received by contractors.