COVID-19: Scottish pharmacies land ‘initial’ £5.5m funding boost
Pharmacies in Scotland will receive “an initial package” of £5.5 million to help them cover the costs of COVID-19, health secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.
The additional funding “will address [pharmacies’] unparalleled level of activity” in dispensing medicines and providing treatment through the extended Scottish minor ailment service during the crisis, Ms Freeman said at the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 press briefing today (April 7).
The cash boost will help cover the cost of “equipment, adaptation of premises, additional staffing and locum cover when they have a sickness absence”, Ms Freeman added.
Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) clarified that the extra £5.5m comes on top of the advance payments due for the end of April, which were announced at the end of last month.
In a statement published today, CPS said that community pharmacy has been “the real frontline in supporting patients within primary care in recent weeks”.
“We have agreed to continue to engage with Scottish Government colleagues to ensure that this is truly recognised in financial terms, as this pandemic continues, as we know it is in policy terms within Government in Scotland,” the negotiator added.
Opening on Easter bank holidays
In the press briefing, Ms Freeman said pharmacies had responded positively to her request for them to stay open on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
“We will meet in full additional costs incurred by community pharmacies to support the NHS at this time,” she added.
CPS acknowledged that this ask is “one that will be difficult for pharmacy teams anticipating a break after a number of challenging weeks”, but said it shows how important community pharmacy is “up and down the country”.
Pharmacies need your support
Ms Freeman concluded her speech with an appeal to the public to ask them to support community pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said: “Pharmacies are working incredibly hard right now. I understand there are times when we are queuing for our medicines or for advice [when] we can become frustrated by those queues.
“But I would ask everyone to please understand that our community pharmacies and our pharmacists are part of the healthcare workforce that I know you support, and they need your support as much as any other part of it does.”
Following confirmation from the Scottish Government, the story was updated today (April 7) to say that the “initial” funding community pharmacies will receive is £5.5m, not £5.3m as it was originally stated by first minister Nicola Sturgeon and health secretary Jeane Freeman at the Scottish COVID-19 press briefing.