Pharmacy leaders have called on the Government to provide more clarity on the Pharmacy Collect service, after it was announced free testing would be dropped by 1 April.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday told MPs that free tests would only remain for vulnerable people and those in ‘the oldest age groups’, as part of a wider ‘living with Covid’ plan.  

It comes after orders of lateral flow tests kits from the Government website were limited to one pack per person every three days

PSNC confirmed in an update last night (21 February) that the move would have implications for the Pharmacy Collect service, but that it was still discussing those with the Government and would ‘update pharmacy teams as soon as possible’. 

Need a ‘smooth withdrawal of lateral flow tests’ 

Malcolm Harris, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) said: ‘We need urgent guidance to allow pharmacies to facilitate a smooth withdrawal of lateral flow tests for the non-clinically vulnerable members of the public.  

‘Unfortunately, during the pandemic, we have witnessed a rise in incidents of abusive behaviour from members of the public. The Government needs to set out its zero-tolerance approach to any abuse, as we saw over Christmas when lateral flow tests were in short supply,’ he added. 

Speaking on BBC News yesterday about the easing of Covid restrictions, Thorrun Govin, chair of the English arm of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said: ‘Any changes in policy, especially around public access to Covid testing, will need to be clearly communicated to healthcare staff and the wider public. 

‘Pharmacists have always put patient care first, but all too often we’ve seen guidance on implementation struggle to keep up with last-minute political decisions. Whatever happens in the coming days, we don’t want to see pharmacy teams left to pick up the pieces.’. 

Campaigners have launched a petition calling on the Government to continue providing lateral flow tests for free by post and at pharmacies. The petition, which was yesterday has already garnered over 3,000 signatures.