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Death assurance policy reversal: community pharmacists to be included

Health secretary Matt Hancock tweeted announcing the reversal this morning
Health secretary Matt Hancock tweeted announcing the reversal this morning

In a matter of days, the government has made a U-turn on its exclusion of pharmacists from the COVID-19 death in service scheme, following a C+D campaign to include pharmacy teams.

The families of community pharmacists who die from COVID-19 as a result of working in close proximity to patients who may have passed it on will be eligible for the £60,000 death in service payment, health secretary Matt Hancock tweeted this morning (April 30).

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has not yet confirmed whether this will extend to non-pharmacist members of the team. C+D has approached the DH for clarification.

This revelation contradicts what the DH told C+D earlier this week (April 28), when it said the families of pharmacists would only receive a death in service payment in “exceptional circumstances”, although it did not elaborate on what these might entail.

In response to this, C+D launched a campaign for community pharmacy teams to be included in the scheme, alongside other pandemic frontline workers. The campaign included an open letter to Mr Hancock, a petition for pharmacy teams to be covered by the scheme and a template letter for pharmacy teams to send to their local MP.

C+D’s petition, which at the time of publication has garnered 2,800 signatures, will remain open for signatures until it is confirmed that the whole pharmacy team is included in the scheme.

In Wales, community pharmacy teams were included in the compensation scheme from its inception, Minister for health Vaughan Gething said in an oral statement yesterday (April 29).

The DH said earlier this week (April 27) that “arrangements are being considered in Scotland and Northern Ireland” to provide a similar scheme.

“Only right and fair”

In response to Mr Hancock’s announcement, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Sandra Gidley thanked the government for listening to the profession’s concerns.

“We very much hope this offer extends to pharmacy teams, as well as all pharmacists who support the public on the frontline,” she said .

The National Pharmacy Association tweeted earlier today to thank the health secretary, commenting that is “only right and fair” for community pharmacy to also be covered by the death in service scheme.

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies CEO Leyla Hannbeck also tweeted her thanks to Matt Hancock, and to chief pharmaceutical officer for England Keith Ridge for “seeking clarification”.

“Community pharmacists and their teams go over and beyond every day delivering great patient care and, as you say, are part of the NHS family”, she said.

Sign the petition asking the DH for life assurance for the entire community pharmacy team here.

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

anti-depressed Pharmacist, Manager

They only gave that 60k payout so that familys of the deceased would not sue the NHS for lack of PPE.

Brian Plainer, Locum pharmacist


O J, Community pharmacist

Thank you Keith Ridge you are a star. I am not bothered about the rest of my team as they dont bleed.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

This grudging inclusion of us (what about the rest of the team as well? Are dispensers and particularly counter staff, who are the most likely to get infected, covered too?) is just as big a kick in the teeth as not being included in the first place. That it took so much disgust and anger to get them to change their minds shows that even now, when we are at the frontline of the battle against this bloody virus, we are still thought of as totally inferior to the rest of the 'proper' NHS. It's like we are just pretend parts of it. Shabby, government, very shabby.

Oh, and in answer to the question posed by C and D at the head of this thread......duh...what do you think....?

Female Tech, Pharmacy technician

Yet again Pharmacy staff are treated with utter contempt.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Couldn't agree more. Without techs, dispensers and counter staff, there is no pharmacy and counter staff are particularly vulnerable to infection, even more so than the rest of us.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Why are we thanking these people? they clearly didnt think we were worth it to start and its only the latest in a whol;e litany of similar events- they dont deserve thanks! To thank Keith Ridge for this is like turkeys thanking the gas engineer for fixing the oven

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Well it's time he made a U turn on lot of other things. As a starter, the advace payment of £33million should be considered as extra funding for COVID-19 and Pharmacies should not be asked return the money.

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