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DH extends provision of free PPE for pharmacy teams until end of March 2023

Pharmacy teams will continue to receive free PPE until March 31 2023, after an “overwhelming” majority of respondents to a Department of Health and Social Care (DH) consultation came out in favour of the scheme.

The DH ran an online consultation throughout October over whether the provision of free personal protective equipment (PPE) should be extended by a year for all health professionals beyond March 31 this year.

Out of the 5,267 responses to the consultation, 95% were in favour, while 4% of respondents disagreed.

Prior to the DH’s announcement, health and social care providers in England – including pharmacies – were due to start purchasing their own PPE from April 1 this year.

“We are extending the offer of free PPE to help relieve pressure on the health and care system, working hand in hand with providers to develop a new ordering platform that works best for them”, health minister Edward Argar said in a statement today (January 13).

The DH is testing a new PPE portal that will be “quicker and easier to use”, which will be rolled out from April, it added.


Demand for PPE shows no sign of diminishing


The consultation took into consideration the trajectory of the pandemic, the need to protect frontline health and care staff and the impact on the businesses who operate in the PPE market, the DH wrote in its response to the consultation.

The consultation responses “showed that the overwhelming majority of health and care providers are strongly in favour of the option to extend the provision of free PPE”, the DH said.

Respondents said that continued provision of free PPE would “protect staff” and allow them “to continue delivering their services safely”, “relieve them of the financial burden associated with higher PPE requirements” and allow healthcare providers to “focus on their patients” by alleviating the burden of procurement.

The continuation of the programme will also ensure that healthcare staff’s PPE continues to meet a “reliable standard”, especially while COVID-19 case numbers remain high and PPE usage is still required by infection prevention and control guidance, the DH wrote.

Comparatively, the DH noted that 87% of wholesalers and suppliers indicated that they were not in favour of free PPE being extended. They were within the 4% of respondents against the continuation of the scheme.

Wholesalers reported that “they have already lost revenue and customers and think the DH should not continue to interfere with the market and should come up with alternative solutions instead”, the DH reported in its response to the consultation.


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