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Scotland: Life assurance scheme to include whole pharmacy team

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the wider community pharmacy team is eligible for the state-funded COVID-19 death in service scheme.

Making the announcement in a video update last week (May 1), Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) CEO Harry McQuillan said the organisation had been working with the Scottish government on the terms and conditions of the death in service scheme for 10 days. He added that he was able to confirm that “community pharmacy colleagues” would be included.  

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government told C+D yesterday (May 4) that they are “working with partners at CPS to confirm the terms of the benefit to be provided”.

Equally valued

Mr McQuillan said he “very much hopes” colleagues working in community pharmacy will not need the scheme but that “it is reassuring to know that you are valued along with all other members of the health and social care team in Scotland”.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) welcomed the announcement and said yesterday (May 4) that the Scottish government and CPS “deserve praise for how, over an extended period of time, they have worked to embed community pharmacy into the heart of primary care”.

“This announcement in Scotland is a reflection of how community pharmacy is valued and respected as a critical part of the health and social care service in a way that sadly is not yet seen in England,” it added.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said last week (April 30) that community pharmacists in England are included in the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DH) COVID-19 death in service scheme. The announcement came two days after the DH told C+D that the families of pharmacists would only receive a death in service payment in “exceptional circumstances”.

C+D has asked the DH if the scheme in England will now be extended to non-pharmacist members of the team, but the DH has not yet been able to confirm if this will be the case.

The Scottish death in service scheme, which was announced last week (April 29), will see families receive “a total lump sum of twice the staff member’s annual earnings and continued survivor entitlements”. This differs from England, where families will receive a £60,000 payment.

A Welsh government spokesperson told C+D today (May 5) that minister for health Vaughan Gething has confirmed that “pharmacy staff, as frontline NHS workers, will be included within the death in service scheme”. The Welsh government will be “publishing further details in due course”, they added.

Last week (April 29), Welsh health minister Mr Gething said in an oral statement that the death-in-service scheme in Wales “gives equal recognition to staff across health, social care and community pharmacy”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health in Northern Ireland told C+D last week (April 29) that the department is “committed to developing a fair and effective scheme for providing life assurance” and said the minister for health “will reach a decision shortly”.

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