Pharmacies have incurred costs of over £400m due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which has called on the chancellor to consider pharmacies in his budget later today.
PSNC has asked the chancellor to write off pharmacies’ £370m worth of Covid-19 loans, as pharmacies have been spending in ‘good-faith’ that their Covid-related costs would be covered, or else risk pharmacy closures.
It comes ahead of the budget which is expected at 12:30pm today (3 March).
In March 2020, the chancellor promised the NHS would get whatever resources it needed to tackle the pandemic.
The PSNC has called on the chancellor to ensure he keeps this promise and intervene in ongoing Covid-19 funding negotiations.
In a letter sent to the chancellor last week, PSNC warned the chancellor that repaying the advanced payments could force some pharmacies to close, which would impact patient services, the Covid-19 vaccination programme, and put more pressure on GP services.
PSNC chief executive, Simon Dukes, said: ‘Community pharmacies have provided an incredible service throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, dispensing more than a billion items safely and offering millions of patients easy access to healthcare advice. But their efforts have come at considerable financial cost, with businesses of all sizes acting in good faith that their Covid-related costs would be covered.
‘PSNC’s analysis indicated that pharmacies’ costs are now at more than £400m and rising: this money has been spent on carrying out services for the NHS in a Covid-secure environment.
‘Community pharmacy contractors must have their costs fully covered and the must not be asked to subsidise the NHS.’
He added: ‘Pharmacies cannot afford to pay back their Covid-19 emergency loans and the chancellor must not intervene to ensure that they are not asked to do so.’
It follows a warning from Mr Dukes, who said last month that every community pharmacy would be needed to deal with the impact of long Covid and ongoing vaccination requirements, after it was revealed that there were 200 pharmacy closures during the pandemic.