The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) are to be core participants in the next stage of the UK’s Covid-19 inquiry, looking at the impact of the pandemic on healthcare.

As core participants in the Covid-19 inquiry, representatives from the groups will be able to make opening and closing statements, consider evidence provided to the Inquiry and propose questions to be asked of witnesses.

The preliminary hearing for Module 3 of the inquiry, which focuses on healthcare, will take place on Tuesday 28 February and will be broadcast live.

It is the next stage in an independent public inquiry set up to examine the UK’s response to and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as to identify lessons to shape the UK’s preparedness for future pandemics. The inquiry is chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, a former Court of Appeal judge.

NPA chief executive, Mark Lyonette, described the hearing as an historic opportunity’ to ‘place on record the achievements of community pharmacy during the pandemic’, as well as ‘to ensure that the inquiry’s recommendations are based in the practical realities faced by health workers such as our members.’

He added: ‘We hope this process will result in recognition of the broad role that community pharmacy plays in health care and action that will better equip the health service to be resilient against, and responsive to, future public health crises.

‘As well as handling a massive increase in demand for advice and medicines during the pandemic, our members continued to provide urgent care, help for minor illnesses and supported people with long-term medical conditions, and supported victims of domestic abuse. They kept vulnerable people supplied with medicines and played a key part in Covid testing and the vaccination programme.’

RPS President Professor Claire Anderson said: 'Pharmacists and pharmacy teams were on the frontline of COVID-19 and went above and beyond to put patients first.

'In 2020 we engaged extensively with the profession and published a report examining the challenges for pharmacy teams during the pandemic as well as the opportunities to transform patient care.

'It is vital that we learns lesson for the future and we will be engaging with the inquiry as it moves forwards.'