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Up to £2k for each pharmacy in Northern Ireland to offset COVID-19 staff costs

Community pharmacies in Northern Ireland can claim up to £2,000 per pharmacy to offset the increased staffing costs they faced during the “latest pandemic surge”, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has announced.

Following representations from Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI), the HSCB has earmarked funding of £1.054 million “to provide grant funding for additional pharmacy staff costs”, a spokesperson told C+D today (September 21).

“This equates to a grant of up to £2,000 per pharmacy” and is in addition to the sector’s “routine funding”, they added. The HSCB does not expect pharmacies to return this funding at a later stage, the spokesperson added.


Surge of COVID-19 cases during the summer


CPNI CEO Gerard Greene told C+D today that the “extra funding being made available by the Department and HSCB through this grant funding allocation is in recognition of the increased staff costs incurred during the summer months when COVID-19 cases rose, and pharmacies continued to play a vital role in the COVID-19 vaccine programme”.

Contractors will be able to claim grant funding of up to £2,000 for “additional staff costs that have been incurred from July to September inclusive”, the HSCB specified in a grant funding allocation document.

They should use the funding to cover additional staff costs they incurred to deliver pharmaceutical services if they had to employ locums “above normal/expected levels”, any “additional hours for pharmacist/support staff”, and the “temporary recruitment of additional staff”.

“The funding is not to be used for normal recurrent staff costs and cannot be used for non-health and social care related staff functions such as retail assistants,” the HSCB specified.

Pharmacies should submit their claims to their local office by October 1, HSCB head of pharmacy and medicines management Joe Brogan wrote in a letter to contractors last week (September 17).

The HSCB expects to allocate this funding to pharmacies by the end of October. 

Mr Greene said the additional funding will enable “pharmacy teams to continue supporting patients with the safe supply of medicines, advice and vaccination programmes in a location convenient to them while helping to free up hospitals and GP surgeries to focus on other healthcare needs”.

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