Community pharmacy wholesalers now have ‘adequate’ supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) available for pharmacy teams, NHSE&I have said.

Fluid resistant surgical face masks have reached pharmacy wholesalers over the last two weeks. Wholesalers ‘now’ have enough PPE supplies for pharmacy teams in England, the body said today in a primary care Bulletin.

Pharmacy teams across England have struggled to obtain continual supplies of PPE throughout the pandemic, due to high demand for the products worldwide.

Since April, after PHE’s PPE stockpile ran dry, the price of protective face masks at wholesalers have risen dramatically. In some cases, boxes of the government-recommended fluid repellent face masks supplied by pharmacy wholesalers increased in price by as much as 387.5%.

The government has since not supplied any PPE stock to community pharmacies in England.

Last week, it was announced that 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.

According to government guidance, pharmacy teams should wear fluid repellent surgical face masks (FRSM) when they are ‘working in an area with possible or confirmed case(s) and unable to maintain 2 metres social distance.’

In their announcement, NSHE&I said if pharmacy teams are still struggling to get hold of PPE supplies from wholesalers, they should ‘contact the Local Resilience Forum and if they cannot help, contact the national supply disruption service’.

‘We are currently developing a new online system so that pharmacies can report any problems they are having accessing PPE, and this will support future allocations’, they added.

Earlier this week, the Department of Health told the Pharmacist that pharmacy team members in England who wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) will not be considered to have come into contact with someone infected with Covid-19 and will not have to self-isolate.

This comes after pharmacies bodies and teams expressed concerns over the potential negative impact the new track and trace system could have on community pharmacies.

According to the head of PSNC, Simon Dukes, some pharmacies have already had to temporarily shut after team members were contacted by contact tracers and told to isolate for 14 days.