Community pharmacies in Wales will receive an additional £3.5m in funding to cover Covid costs the sector has incurred during the pandemic, the Welsh Government has announced.

In a written statement, published today (16 March), Vaughan Gething, Welsh minister for health and social services, announced the additional funding in recognition of ‘the vital role pharmacies played during the height of the pandemic in all our communities’.

This means the sector has now been allocated a total of £9.1m in additional funding — which contractors will not have to pay back — after being allocated £5.6m in December 2020.

‘This funding [£5.6m] was able to be provided directly to contractors early in the new year, along with up to £0.6m to pharmacies’ service costs in delivering Government sourced seasonal influenza vaccines administered by pharmacies,’ Mr Gething explained.

He added: ‘I am, today, very pleased to confirm that a further £3.5m will be provided to community pharmacy contractors, meeting Community Pharmacy Wales’ formal proposal in full.’ 

On behalf of contractors across Wales, the chair of Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW), Mark Griffiths said that the sector was ‘absolutely delighted’ that the Welsh Government had met its claim for additional work delivered in dealing with Covid pandemic during the spring of 2020.

‘This additional sum of £3.5m means community pharmacists will have received over nine million pounds in one financial year,’ he said.

‘This significant additional spending, over and above the community pharmacy contract, reflects and appreciates the hard work and real expenditure made by the network during the most challenging period in the history of community pharmacy.’

He added: ‘We are grateful that the minister for health, Vaughan Gething, and the whole Welsh Government have recognised our contribution in word, in deed and in totality,’ he said.

Mr Gething also announced today that further repayments against a £55m advance payment made to contractors in 2020 would be deferred until the 2021-22 financial year.  

The payback date has been pushed back ‘in order to support the cash flow situation for community pharmacies,’ he explained.

In the announcement, Mr Gething also commented on the Covid vaccination programme and said he wanted to see community pharmacy involvement ‘increasing over the next few weeks’.

Earlier this month, the Pharmacist reported that so far only a very limited number of pharmacies in Wales have been commissioned to deliver the Covid vaccine, despite calls for wider involvement of the sector.

In England, pharmacists launched protests last week over the UK Government’s failure to cover costs incurred by the sector during the pandemic.