Community pharmacies in England will be eligible to receive free personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Government until 31 March 2023, following the results of a public consultation.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) ran the consultation in October to determine whether centrally provided PPE should end as planned in March or be extended.

More than 5,000 individuals and organisations responded, of which 95% were in favour of extending the supply of free PPE.

Alongside this, the Government has said it is developing an ‘improved platform’ for the ordering of PPE that will be ‘quicker and easier to use’ for healthcare staff.

A statement said: ‘The new and improved features will enable quick ordering options and status updates’.

Health minister Edward Argar said: ‘We are extending the offer of free PPE to help relieve pressure on the health and care system, working hand in hand with providers to develop a new ordering platform that works best for them’.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, welcomed the decision.

She commented: ‘Trust leaders will particularly welcome this outcome as the safety of their staff and patients is a top priority, and PPE helps prevent the spread of nosocomial infections.

‘This important step also means trusts won’t be inundated with extra significant burdens around procurement and finances at this very challenging time.’

Yesterday (12 January) the UK has recorded 398 further coronavirus-related deaths - the second day in a row that the daily figure has hit an 11-month high.

Meanwhile, latest data also shows 129,587 more Covid cases were reported in the past 24-hours.

The morning, the Government announced the isolation period for people who test positive for Covid has been cut to ‘five full days’ in England.

From Monday, people will be able to leave isolation from the start of day six after two negative tests.