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DH: Order PPE from wholesalers as new portal is not for pharmacies

GP surgeries and small care homes can order PPE for free through the DH's new portal
GP surgeries and small care homes can order PPE for free through the DH's new portal

Pharmacies should continue to order personal protective equipment (PPE) from their usual wholesalers, the DH has said as it launches a new ordering portal for GPs and care homes.

From this week, GP surgeries and small care homes in England can register on a new PPE portal launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) in collaboration with eBay and order protective equipment for free.

The DH said earlier this week (May 26) that the new portal will be “scaled up nationally”. However, this phase of the rollout only includes “GPs and small residential and domiciliary social care services”, as the DH said they are “less likely to be registered with wholesalers”.

The new portal is for emergency top-ups and primary care providers are being asked to source their PPE through their traditional routes first, the DH told C+D yesterday (May 28).

However, pharmacies should get their PPE through their “business as usual supply routes”, such as from wholesalers, the DH added. When unable to source the equipment from them, they should contact their local resilience forum.

Only once these two options have been exhausted should pharmacies that are still in need of PPE contact the national supply disruption response (NSDR) line, the DH said.

Last month (April 2), C+D reported that many pharmacies were struggling to source PPE through the NSDR line and had been directed back to their usual suppliers when contacting the helpline.

“Disappointing” that pharmacy is left out

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called for pharmacy to be “urgently included in the PPE portal”.

RPS England board chair Professor Claire Anderson said it is “really disappointing to see pharmacy being left behind in this phase of the roll-out”.

“Pharmacies are one of the last places keeping their doors open to the public without an appointment and yet seemingly an afterthought when it comes to sourcing PPE for staff,” she added.

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D yesterday that “as demonstrated during the COVID-19 period, community pharmacy is an essential part of the primary care network, yet every time we have to fight to get included and recognised”.

“AIMp has raised this issue with NHS England and the DH and asked for a dialogue to understand the root causes of this problem and what can be done to address it.

“While supply through wholesalers seems a sensible approach from the DH, unfortunately, it hasn’t worked from the start, still doesn’t work and needs to be urgently reviewed,” she added.

Many pharmacists are finding it difficult to get hold of face masks from wholesalers, despite Alliance Healthcare, AAH and Phoenix UK being sent fluid-resistant surgical masks from the DH’s stockpile on April 9, C+D revealed last month (April 24).

Can you order PPE from wholesalers?

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

In my opinion the people who have got away with it are GPs during this lockdown. Complete shambles and shame on them. The whole world is starting to open up but no sign of them doing so, cowards the BMA are


Closed doors, full pay but only seeing 5% of patients. All the admin being lumped onto the pharmacy. If their salaries were dropped to 5% they would have opened their doors so fast your head would spin.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I wouldn't describe the BMA as cowards. If our representative bodies had secured us a deal like the GPs have we would be lauding them as heroes. I'd say the BMA are a shrewd and powerful outfit, the exact opposite of pharmacy bodies.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Mr Ridge obviously not doing his incompetent best to represent Pharmacy in the halls of power again...

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

The Govt. and DHSC seem to always get their priorities wrong. They always go backward on their list of priorities. Most importance to the least affected.

I can understand the care homes but GPs? Seriously? You are trying to prioratise someone who is completely locked behind the doors with minimal or NIL contact with outside world. And the most vulnerable and most exposed to the public i.e the Pharmacy staff, are left to fend on their own. Despite knowing that the wholesalers don't have or not releasing any stock to the Pharmacies, why put them through this ordeal at such difficult times?

When will someone put some logic in to these decision makers?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

As I've said before, Pharmacy is not, never has been and never will be, a part of the NHS. We are seen as the cannon-fodder to protect everyone else and always get the short straw over EVERYTHING. Our representative bodies are a spineless, useless lot and the only way we will ever get our voices heard is to have concerted action and ALL down tools for a week, let the chaos run it's course, then we might, just might be appreciated a little more.

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