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DH unable to confirm life assurance policy covers entire pharmacy team

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) remains unable to confirm whether England's COVID-19 death in service payment extends to the entire pharmacy team.

The government scheme was announced on April 27, although community pharmacists were originally only eligible for the £60,000 death in service payment in “exceptional circumstances”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock later reversed this decision and last week (April 30) tweeted that community pharmacists would be included.

However, the health secretary’s tweet only mentioned pharmacists, making no reference to other members of the team, and no further announcement has been made.

When approached by C+D, the DH has not been able to confirm if the scheme in England extends to the wider community pharmacy team.

At present, it therefore remains unclear whether non-pharmacist staff such as pharmacy technicians and dispensers will also be covered by the scheme.

Further details "soon"

In response to C+D’s request for confirmation on whether the wider pharmacy team will be eligible for the payout, the DH said yesterday (May 4) that it will be “setting out further details on the scheme soon” and will be able to “provide some clarity then”.

C+D last week launched a campaign for the inclusion of the entire pharmacy team in the policy. As it has not yet been confirmed if all community pharmacy team members will be included, the petition remains open for signatures. To date (May 5), the petition has received 8,649 signatures.

The campaign also included an open letter to Mr Hancock and a template letter pharmacy teams can use to lobby their local MP on the issue.

Other UK nations

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), MrGething said in an oral statement that the scheme in Wales “gives equal recognition to staff across health, social care and community pharmacy.”

In Northern Ireland, “arrangements are being considered”, to provide a similar scheme, the DH said last week (April 27). 

In Scotland, the wider community pharmacy team is eligible for the state-funded COVID-19 death in service scheme.

Technicians body “disappointed”

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (ATPUK) president Liz Fidler said last week (April 29) that the organisation is “disappointed” that the scheme “does not appear to extend to all of our pharmacy staff”.

APTUK will be “working with key partners to seek clarity around the inclusion of all pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and support staff in this scheme”, she added.

Ms Fidler also said she has contacted pharmacy minister Jo Churchill,  the DH and NHS England for clarification on the matter.

Do you think pharmacy workers should be included in the scheme?

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