Pharmacy teams in England will continue to have access to free Government PPE until the end of March 2022, NHS England has announced.

This comes as clinical experts predict that the need for PPE in primary care settings will ‘remain high throughout the next financial year’, NHS England said.

In a primary care bulletin, sent to staff last week (8 April), NHS leaders said that the free provisions of PPE — which were initially due to end in June 2021 — have now been extended for a further nine months.

‘This will ensure that general practice, dentists, community pharmacy and opticians can continue to access rigorously tested and high-quality PPE,’ it explained.

It also said that ‘providers should continue to access Covid-19 PPE via their current distribution channels.’

In February almost 20 healthcare bodies, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for stronger PPE guidance amid emerging scientific evidence around the transmission of Covid-19.

The letter said that measures to reduce airborne spread in healthcare settings were ‘inadequate’ and called for an ‘urgent intervention’ to protect health workers, including with better masks and ventilation.

It followed researchers finding that coughing generated at least 10 times more infectious aerosol emissions than breathing or speaking – and recommended FFP3 masks in Covid hot zones and similar locations to reflect this.

The free provisions of PPE – which were initially made available only to general practice and small care homes in May – were expanded to include community pharmacy in August last year.

Contractors can make claims via NHSBSA’s Manage Your Service (MYS).