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DH unable to confirm life assurance policy covers entire pharmacy team

C+D’s petition will remain open until we have confirmation that the full pharmacy team is included in the scheme
C+D’s petition will remain open until we have confirmation that the full pharmacy team is included in the scheme

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) remains unable to confirm whether England's COVID-19 death in service payment extends to the entire pharmacy team.

The government scheme was announced on April 27, although community pharmacists were originally only eligible for the £60,000 death in service payment in “exceptional circumstances”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock later reversed this decision and last week (April 30) tweeted that community pharmacists would be included.

However, the health secretary’s tweet only mentioned pharmacists, making no reference to other members of the team, and no further announcement has been made.

When approached by C+D, the DH has not been able to confirm if the scheme in England extends to the wider community pharmacy team.

At present, it therefore remains unclear whether non-pharmacist staff such as pharmacy technicians and dispensers will also be covered by the scheme.

Further details "soon"

In response to C+D’s request for confirmation on whether the wider pharmacy team will be eligible for the payout, the DH said yesterday (May 4) that it will be “setting out further details on the scheme soon” and will be able to “provide some clarity then”.

C+D last week launched a campaign for the inclusion of the entire pharmacy team in the policy. As it has not yet been confirmed if all community pharmacy team members will be included, the petition remains open for signatures. To date (May 5), the petition has received 8,649 signatures.

The campaign also included an open letter to Mr Hancock and a template letter pharmacy teams can use to lobby their local MP on the issue.

Other UK nations

A Welsh government spokesperson told C+D today (May 5) that minister for health Vaughan Gething has confirmed that “pharmacy staff, as frontline NHS workers, will be included within the death in service scheme”. The Welsh government will be “publishing further details in due course”, they added.

Last week (April 29), MrGething said in an oral statement that the scheme in Wales “gives equal recognition to staff across health, social care and community pharmacy.”

In Northern Ireland, “arrangements are being considered”, to provide a similar scheme, the DH said last week (April 27). 

In Scotland, the wider community pharmacy team is eligible for the state-funded COVID-19 death in service scheme.

Technicians body “disappointed”

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (ATPUK) president Liz Fidler said last week (April 29) that the organisation is “disappointed” that the scheme “does not appear to extend to all of our pharmacy staff”.

APTUK will be “working with key partners to seek clarity around the inclusion of all pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and support staff in this scheme”, she added.

Ms Fidler also said she has contacted pharmacy minister Jo Churchill,  the DH and NHS England for clarification on the matter.

10 Comments
Question: 
Do you think pharmacy workers should be included in the scheme?

O J, Community pharmacist

Community Phatmacy-- doormat of the NHS

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Are GP teams (receptionists, dispensers etc) included in this? The information is probably out there already but I can't be bothered to look it up so I'm hoping someone else will tell me.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Yet again, Scotland & Wales put their money where their mouth is in supporting pharmacy. Where is England? Probably stealing it from us to give to bloody doctors!

O J, Community pharmacist

I dont know if they give the money to GP or not but one thing is when it comes to pharmacy then DoH cries poverty. No money for this sector as it is a burden on tax payers.
The word in the Whitehall is that your job can be easily replicated by a technician. Hence this sector does not deserve a penny nor any consideration. :)

Brian Plainer, Locum pharmacist

Disgraceful - they ought to be bending over backwards to assist pharmacy teams in every way possible right now. Having conversated with a GP colleague who also works one day a week in a normally very busy large city A&E I discovered the following:
1) He's currently been advised and is resultantly taking official holiday leave as the A&E department is so quiet.
2) Operating remotely from home instead of a closed GP practice, I asked if he was seeing less than 10 percent of patients to which the reply was no more like less than 5 percent.
3) On pointing out the situation that pharmacists have found themselves in, having to contest to be included as part of the death in service payment (and still hasn't resolved for all pharmacy staff); he replied that many GPs have a death in service benefit as part of their contract anyway.

I ask - what the hell is going on here? Why were GPs and other health professionals who aren't directly facing patients as pharmacists currently are, eligible automatically for the payment? Why are the new Nightingale hospitals being shut down as in London? Why aren't COVID patients being treated in them, such that A&E and other hospital departments may be allowed to reopen and resume perfunctory service? I'll ask again - what the hell is going on?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

We are the only ones bending over backwards - on the rack waiting for the snap of broken bones!

Chris Green, Hospital pharmacist

The only ones? Really?  Go and spend a day with an ITU pharmacy team or a Nightingale Pharmacy team, or a sterile production team and you'll quickly learn tha you're not. Hospital estates teams, infection control teams, ITU teams all working well beyond normal parameters. The pandemic is stretching lots of staff groups,

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

You are inside of the NHS and therefore get all the support you need. We are not and therefore don't, and as far as I can see, the Nightingale pharmacy teams haven't exactly been overstretched seeing as only the London one has even seen any patients.

Anyway, I would count any pharmacy team as 'us'.

Christine Johnson, Accuracy checking technician

Yes we are at the front line. Yet again pharmacy staff are forgotten

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

As techs and particularly counter staff, you are more likely to get infected than the pharmacist, especially as most of us are not using the consultation rooms any more because they are too small. This is typical treatment of pharmacy generally - don't worry, they'll find a way to not pay pharmacists either. You won't be alone.

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