Some pharmacies have said they are not planning to sell Covid tests beyond 1 April when the Government’s provision of free tests comes to an end.  

Until now, pharmacists have been to offer Covid tests to patients through the Pharmacy Collect scheme, which allowed pharmacists to make between £1.40-£1.70 per test distributed.  

Mike Hewitson, superintendent pharmacist at Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, told The Pharmacist that he had ‘no plans’ to sell the tests ‘anytime soon’. 

‘We’ve had more grief over lateral flow tests than anything else over the pandemic,’ he explained. 

‘They are a pain to order and they do not always arrive; then we have to deal with angry and frustrated patients. 

‘I just don’t want to be involved with testing anymore if I can help it,’ Mr Hewitson added. 

Meanwhile, James Tibbs, the pharmacist at Southampton-based AR Pharmacy said his pharmacy would be selling Covid tests at £3 each,  but would be willing to drop his prices if the ‘market changes’. 

His pharmacy rannn out of Government-funded tests a few weeks ago and had been selling private tests since, he said. 

‘Since we’ve been charging people,  we’ve definitely seen less demand’, Mr Tibbs explained. 

‘When we were giving out tests through pharmacy collect were handing out up to 50 boxes per day;, now we’re selling near 50 per week.’ 

He said only around one in 20 people who come in looking for a test are willing to pay. 

‘It is worrying, but people are struggling right now with the cost of living rising and they cannot afford to buy Covid tests on top of that,’ he explained. 

Contractor and managing director of Whitworth Chemists, Jay Badenhorst, said he was holding out on selling tests in his pharmacies in the hope that the Government would backtrack on its decision to stop free testing. 

‘I know the Government is not likely to change its mind, but I really believe that free testing should continue while cases are still high,’ he said. 

Covid cases have climbed by a million in a week in the UK, data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests, with one in 16 people in England currently testing positive. 

‘Obviously, if the Government stops providing free tests and my patients ask for tests I will provide them, but as of yet I’ve made no arrangements with wholesalers,’ Mr Badenhorst explained. 

On Tuesday (29 March), the health minister rejected an MP's call for a three-month extension to free Covid tests. 

Labour MP Rachael Maskell called on the Government to follow Wales in extending the lateral test programme. 

But the idea was knocked back by Health Minister Maggie Throup, who insisted the nation was ‘one step ahead of the virus’ despite rising case rates. 

Some of the multiples have already announced their test prices, with Boots UK saying it will offer lateral flow tests for £2.50 each or £12 for a pack of five. 

Superdrug has said it will charge £1.99 for one test or £9.79 for a pack of five, while Lloyds Pharmacy is selling packs of five tests for £9.49 online and has announced plans to sell individual tests for £1.89. 

Rapid tests will be rationed to people working in high-risk settings – including health care staff – patients in hospitals, care home patients and people eligible for community Covid drug treatment 

In a statement issued yesterday, health secretary Sajid Javid said both LFTs and PCR testing will continue to be free for NHS workers. This includes community pharmacists, as later confirmed by the DHSC to The Pharmacist.