Pharmacies can now make larger orders of free personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Government portal, after order limits were expanded for primary care teams yesterday.

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.

Under the new limits, larger pharmacies - with 15 or more staff - can now order up to 400 IIR masks, 200 aprons, 400 gloves and six bottles of hand hygiene per week. Pharmacies with 10-14 staff can order up to 200 IIR masks, 100 aprons, 200 gloves and four bottles of hand sanitiser per week.

Smaller pharmacies, with between five and nine members of staff, can order up to 100 IIR masks, 100 aprons, 200 gloves and two bottles of hand hygiene.

Pharmacies with less than five staff members can order up to 50 IIR masks,100 aprons, 200 gloves and one bottle of hand hygiene per week.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it will continue to review order limits to ‘make sure [limits] reflect the latest public health guidance, Covid-19 demand modelling and analysis’.

In the update, pharmacy teams were reminded only to use the portal ‘to meet the extra need for PPE that has arisen as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic’.

‘You should not use the portal to order PPE for non-Covid-19 requirements. You should get this through your normal channels,’ the Government added.

Eligible primary and social care teams can now access ‘all the Covid-19 PPE [they] need from the PPE portal’, the DHSC said, but in the case of disruption to the supply chain, teams should use their local resilience forums (LRFs).