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COVID-19: Pharmacies will be reimbursed for PPE costs, NHSE announces

Community pharmacies that bought personal protective equipment (PPE) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic will be refunded, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has said.

Speaking at an NHSE&I community pharmacy webinar last week (November 12), NHSE&I deputy director of pharmacy commissioning Dr Jill Loader confirmed that “PPE will be reimbursed, there is money for that”.

NHSE&I “are in negotiations” with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) about the details of the reimbursement, she added.

The Treasury has allocated funds to the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) “for the provision of retrospective funding to non-hospital NHS services and other public services that have incurred legitimate costs in purchasing PPE as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a slide presented by Dr Loader at the webinar.

The negotiator confirmed to C+D that it is in talks with the government to cover the "significant amount" contractors have spent on PPE as part of a "wider bid" for the sector's COVID-19-related costs to be reimbursed. 

A DH spokesperson told C+D earlier this week (November 17) that  it is “developing a process to reimburse primary care contractors for the additional PPE they have purchased to meet the COVID-19 infection control requirements from February 2020.”

Four in 10 pharmacies not registered

Last month (October 7), C+D revealed that only a third (3,800) of community pharmacies in England had registered to receive free PPE via the DH’s portal since the service was extended to the sector on August 3.

Dr Loader said that just over half (59%) of community pharmacies are now signed up to the PPE portal, and encouraged all pharmacies to use the service.

“In the future, all the PPE supplies that are free will be coming through the portal and we know that only 59% of pharmacies are signed up to the PPE portal,” she said. “We really wanted to make sure that all pharmacies get the message to sign up,” she added.

When pharmacies were added to the list of providers that can order PPE through the DH’s portal in August they could initially only order 50 IIR masks, 100 aprons and 100 pairs of gloves per week, regardless of the size of their team.

However, these limits were reviewed on September 2, when it was agreed that pharmacies with more than five staff would be able to order larger quantities of PPE through the portal.

Pharmacy staff with questions about using the PPE portal can contact the customer service team on 0800 876 6802, from 7am to 7am on any day of the week, according to the DH.

Has your pharmacy had to spend a lot of PPE during the pandemic?

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